Even one glass of alcohol can harm your baby for life

Department of Health 11/09/2019 - 12:27

Patricia Mokoena

Facilities with maternity services around Gauteng are today, 9 September, observing International Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Day.

All activities are aimed at creating awareness and educating communities about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Babies with FAS have growth defects and they often suffer from learning and development difficulties.  In different health facilities around the province, this day is spent teaching expecting mothers on the dangers of substance abuse and how to take care of their unborn babies.

Assistant Manager in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology unit at Leratong Hospital, Sr Suzan Takwesi said that women around their area don't really present much with such symptoms but that does not stop health care workers from educating them about the dangers of alcohol abuse during pregnancy.

"We offer health education to pregnant women all the time and we always emphasise that alcohol abuse is not healthy for any unborn baby. Babies are at risk even when small amount of alcohol is consumed, said Sr Takwesi.

According to a research published in the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR), South Africa is leading the country with the highest number of FAS births.

Babies with FAS normally have a small head, a smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose, small and wide-set eyes, a very thin upper lip, learning disabilities, heart and kidney problems as well as other abnormal facial features.

"These babies also suffer from delayed development, have wrinkled skin, they look old, are often irritable and are below average height and weight," added Sr Takwesi.

When presenting at Leratong Hospital, all pregnant mothers complete a questionnaire about alcohol intake to determine the level of risk that the unborn baby is exposed to and to attend the case immediately if there is a need.

Expecting women are advised daily during health education talks at the hospital to ensure that they don't take any substance that might endanger the lives of their unborn babies.

"My advice to all women planning to fall pregnant and those who are already expecting is to stay away from alcohol completely because even 1 glass can put your baby's life at risk.  Stop consuming alcohol as soon as you realize that you are pregnant and start practicing healthy habits throughout your pregnancy to ensure that you don't have a complicated pregnancy and that you deliver a normal healthy baby, concluded Sr Takwesi.



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