FASD is not curable but 100% preventable.
FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM DISORDER
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About FASD in South Africa
South Africa is reported to have the highest incidence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) globally. It is noted that a significant portion of the population, with current data suggesting that approximately 25% of women, engages in the consumption of alcohol at high levels. The consumption of alcohol, even in minimal amounts, poses severe risks to fetal development, leading to a range of lifelong effects under the umbrella of FASD. The context of daily existence in many of South Africa's townships is characterized by substantial challenges, including poverty, societal issues, and prevalent violence. These conditions contribute to the perception of alcohol as a coping mechanism to alleviate the burdens of daily life, albeit with profound implications for maternal and child health.
Raising Awareness through Education
Tackling this critical issue, which impacts both individual lives and society at large, forms a core component of our training program for child caregivers as this condition can be entirely avoided if alcohol consumption is ceased during pregnancy.
In an effort to enhance our program, we have invited a distinguished expert in the domain. Dr. Wolter is in charge of the specialized consulting service for individuals with FASD, working in partnership with Professor Ludwig Spohr at the University Hospital Charité in Berlin.
The Impact of Alcohol on the Unborn Baby
An entire afternoon was allocated to enhance awareness and understanding of FASD, with a particular emphasis on training local creche teachers about its symptoms and the profound and lasting harm it inflicts. Although there is a general recognition that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is detrimental and may lead to children being born smaller and weaker, the full scope of potential harm is often underestimated. The consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure can include critical organ damage, physical abnormalities, developmental delays, behavioral issues, and notably, severe cognitive deficits. Furthermore, individuals afflicted by this condition frequently face challenges in living independently and are at a heightened risk of falling into continuous patterns of criminal behavior and substance dependence.
Regina, an occupational therapist, is also involved in the training. She advises schools, homes, and nursery schools in Stanford and, together with Dr. Wolter, addresses the special needs of these children. Providing them with structure in their daily life, which they cannot create on their own, is extremely important. They need assistance with all daily routines and often feel overwhelmed by the chaos of various sensory inputs that continuously affect them.
"In this way, we learn together — from each other and for each other — to improve the health of the children. They require our affection and support, as they are the most vulnerable and weakest members of society, yet also its most valuable treasure. They represent our future, and it is imperative that we invest in their well-being and development."(Nandipa, Creche Teacher Funimfundu)