Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorders (FASD) are 100% permanent | Western Cape Government


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorders (FASD) are 100% permanent

8 September 2020

Don’t drink alcohol when you are pregnant. Not even one sip. No amount or type of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it goes into her bloodstream and then the blood takes the alcohol to the unborn baby. Alcohol damages the unborn baby’s growing body and brain, resulting in permanent damage to their brain and organs. Alcohol harms an unborn baby in different ways at different times during the pregnancy.

It is very important that everyone support pregnant mothers avoid any alcohol. Partners, friends, society, and healthcare workers all have a supporting role to play in reminding pregnant mothers not to drink alcohol.

Western Cape Government Health will commemorate FASD Day (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) with the rest of the world on 9 September 2020. Annually at nine minutes past nine on 9 September, people are encouraged to ring bells as part of the international call for each time zone across the world. The aim is to create awareness and to focus attention on the fact that any alcohol consumed by a woman during the nine months of pregnancy, will damage her unborn baby. 

“Pre-natal exposure to alcohol can cause permanent brain damage which often result in learning and behavioural difficulties. FASD impact all areas of a child’s life, especially their education. It is estimated that 43% of children with FASD have disrupted school experiences, that include suspension, expulsion and/or drop out. This disadvantages the child. I therefore appeal to expectant mothers to give their unborn children a fair chance in life. Always remember there is no amount of alcohol that is safe during pregnancy and all forms of alcohol can be harmful,” says Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Minister of Health.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are a group of birth defects caused in babies when the mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is 100 % preventable if the mother does not drink alcohol during pregnancy and similarly is also 100% permanent. The damage done by the alcohol cannot be undone or cured.

If you are planning to have a baby or had unprotected sex, it is best to stop drinking alcohol completely. Only consume alcohol if you have confirmed that you are not pregnant and if you are not planning to have a baby.

Have you been drinking alcohol while pregnant? Stop drinking alcohol immediately. By stopping, you can prevent further damage to your unborn baby.

What does alcohol do to your unborn baby?
• A baby with FASD can be born prematurely.
• Babies with FASD have a low birth weight and are weak and sickly.
• Children with FASD are slow in reaching milestones, such as sitting, walking, and talking.
• A child with FASD often has a lower IQ than children who don’t have FASD and struggle to learn.
• Children with FASD often find it difficult to concentrate and have to be taught the same skills many times.
• Organ damaged, especially the brain, eyes, ears and heart
• The baby’s facial features could be affected
• Brain damage which results in lifelong problems such as learning disabilities, interpersonal relationship problems, developmental disabilities such as fine motor development, coordination, arithmetic and cause and effect reasoning.

Speak to your healthcare worker at your nearest clinic and ask that your child is assessed if you are worried that your baby or child may have FASD.

Are you struggling to stop drinking alcohol, using drugs or smoking? Speak to your healthcare worker, social worker, or religious leader. You can also contact any of the following organisations:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous, 021 418 0908
  • Al-Anon, 021 595 4517
  • SANCA, 021 945 4080
  • FASFacts:  023 342 7000
Media Enquiries: 

Nadia Ferreira
Principal Communications Officer
Garden Route and Central Karoo Districts
Western Cape Government Health
Tel: 076 379 5423
Email: Nadia.Ferreira@westerncape.gov.za
Website: www.westerncape.gov.za