Sun, 17 Nov 2019

In an article on 14 June written by Boitumelo Matshaba on W24 entitled "9 Ways Drinking Alcohol Can Affect You As A Woman" the article speaks about the dangers of alcohol during pregnancy and how "Signs of FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) always appear when the child is born".

FAS is unfortunately only one diagnosis under the umbrella spectrum of disorders known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD is permanent brain damage caused to a fetus by being exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. Although FAS does have physical features, only approximately 10% on the FASD spectrum will be diagnosed with FAS. The other 90% won't show any particular physical features hence why it is often referred to as 'an invisible disability'. The brain damage may in fact only manifest itself as the child grows older in areas such as learning disabilities and behavioral problems ranging from mild to severe.

FASD is South Africa's largest birth defect with approximately 60 000 - 72 000 children born with the disability every year. South Africa has the highest rate of FASD in the entire world. The damage is 100% permanent but also 100% preventable.

We need to raise awareness about the dangers of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. To give pregnant women a chance to make an informed decision about alcohol during pregnancy and also to educate the rest of society in supporting the fight against FASD.

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