South Africa and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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South Africa and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

September 14, 2015

This past week marked another World FAS Day as South Africa continues to educate and encourage expectant mothers about the dangers of consuming alcohol while pregnant. As we continue our work both in Johannesburg and Cape Town, we are inundated by the daily reality of living with FAS. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS, affects many of our children due to their exposure to alcohol in utero.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is 100% preventable, but also 100% irreversible. According to the World Health Organization, the Western Cape Province has the highest reported rate of FAS in the world affecting 70 to 80 out of every 1,000 babies. The rampant tik (methamphetamine) epidemic in Cape Town only exacerbates the problem, and one recent study in a Cape township revealed 49% of children studied showed signs of FAS.

Children born with FAS can be born with characteristic physical abnormalities and compromised nervous systems along with serious lifelong cognitive and developmental disabilities. This is an issue as children affected by FAS require much greater support and often need specialized care and schooling.

Our children with FAS require much more scaffolding and support to flourish throughout their childhood. Often, once they reach the teen years they need additional layers of support to succeed both at home and in school. Some children with more severe FAS will require further support and a much slower launch into adulthood, as well as creativity in choosing a career path.

We are committed to offering each child at Acres of Love everything needed to thrive. For our children living with FAS, we are passionate about advocating for their more complex needs as we offer love and dignity in family care.