The Western Cape has for many years been linked to massive problems in Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in farming communities across the country. There is a lot that remains unknown about this crippling disease, but it’s far reaching effect on the children of many of these communities is clearly evident.
The term was first used about 40 or so years ago and is described as a birth defect in children resulting from heavy drinking during pregnancy. Children suffering with FAS generally have growth problems, facial and brain abnormalitites, as well as organ malformations.
The “dop system” (a form of payment in alcohol used by farm owners) was one of the big contributing factors as to why it has become such a wide spread issue. Studies have confirmed this, indicating that in high risk areas, the children coming from rural areas are the ones most at risk.
According to the Nutrition Information Centre at the University of Stellenbosch, some of the characteristics associated with Western Cape mothers bearing FAS children are things like living in an environment where drinking is the norm (especially binge drinking), poor education, seasonal or agricultural worker, have given birth to more than 3 children already, are over the age s of 27 and have poor socio-economic circumstances.
In order to prevent FAS, mothers should refrain from any alcohol at all during pregnancy as consumption during any of the trimesters can cause permanent damage to a growing foetus. In cases where women experience unplanned pregnancies, they should stop drinking immediately when they find out that they are pregnant as the impact of alcohol on a foetus varies from mother to mother. In other words, if you find out that you are pregnant and you realise you have been drinking during this time, it does not mean it is too late to stop.
Because the social acceptance of drinking in rural areas is so prevelant and also the lack of information and education is so high, much work can be done regarding social awarness and upliftment in these areas and there are many organizations doing great work all over the province. If you feel that this is a cause worthy of getting involved in then contact if I could..., Creative Consulting & Development Works internship placement offering, to arrange an interview and allow them to place you with one of these great organizations so that you can contribute to making a difference in the lives of the children of South Africa.
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