Give Your Baby the Best Start in Life – Don't Drink During Pregnancy | Western Cape Government

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Give Your Baby the Best Start in Life – Don't Drink During Pregnancy


Foetal Alcohol Syndrome or FAS is a common, preventable form of intellectual disability and a serious public health problem in the Western Cape. FAS affects children by slowing their physical growth and results in central nervous system abnormalities. Children are born with FAS when their mothers drink alcohol while they are pregnant. Alcohol can cause irreversible damage to the developing foetus.

Preventing FAS

Mothers need to be educated and informed of the consequences of FAS on their children and they need to be counselled on the dangers of drinking during pregnancy. 


Apart from physical abnormalities, children with FAS can also have neurological, behavioural, and learning problems. Programmes are currently being developed to identify and assist high-risk mothers and to diagnose children with FAS as early as possible. 

Although many of these children experience learning problems, stimulation and management programmes are being developed to assist parents and caregivers. Should a parent/caregiver or teacher be worried about a child, the child can be taken to the nearest clinic from where the child will be referred to the most appropriate service for further assessment.

Risk Factors

Risk factors associated with FAS include:

  • Any alcohol consumed by a pregnant mother: It is not safe to use any alcohol during pregnancy!
  • Additional substance abuse.
  • The older the pregnant mother is when she drinks, the higher the risk to the foetus.
  • The effects of alcohol on the developing foetus gets worse with every consecutive pregnancy, if the mother continues to drink.
  • Genetic factors: the genetic make-up of the mother and/or foetus might make them vulnerable to the effects of alcohol.
  • The health and nutritional status of the mother.
  • Poverty.
  • Low maternal education. 
  • If there is a drinking partner.

How To Get Advice

You can get help at your local clinic, districtregional or tertiary hospitals.

If you are a first-time visitor to a health facility, you will be asked to fill out a form and a folder will be opened. Bring your ID book, any medication you are taking and a clinic or hospital card, if your were previously registered at the facility. You should also bring the child's Road to Health Chart. If you are worried about your alcohol consumption, or have questions to ask the health worker, please do so.

Useful Contacts

Various private organisations can also help with advice on foetal alcohol syndrome:

Organisation Tel Fax Website
Alcoholics Anonymous 0861 435 722 088 021 510 2288
Al-Anon 0861 252 666 021 595 4620
Narcotics Anonymous SA 083 900 6962
086 147 2622
011 781 6420
Foundation for Alcohol Related Research 021 406 6210 021 447 7943  


Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (Western Cape Government)
The content on this page was last updated on 21 September 2017