Office: +27 23 342 7000

Article View


View Detail

10 Facts About Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a characteristic pattern of physical and mental birth deficiencies, caused by alcohol consumption by the pregnant moth... 

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a characteristic pattern of physical and mental birth deficiencies, caused by alcohol consumption by the pregnant mother.

  1. The continued focus of research based on communities such as Wellington in the Western Cape Province, and De Aar and Upington in the Northern Cape Province, once again underscored the enormity of the FAS problem in South Africa. The severity of the potential crisis facing the country is best illustrated by the results from the De Aar project that show a prevalence of FAS in the town of 122 per 1 000 school-entry children, thus 12,2%. This is officially the highest frequency yet reported in one population anywhere in the world.
    Reference: Chairman’s Report for the year ended 31 March 2006, website
    In addition, the prevalence rate of Fetal Alcohol Exposure is always far higher than the FAS rate. (In the above-mentioned areas between 3 – 5 times higher.) As a result, an unknown number of children are prenatally damaged due to their mother’s alcohol consumption.

  2. The prevalence of FAS in countries such as America varies from 0.1 – 0.3%.

  3. FAS is the largest cause of mental retardation in most industrial nations, which directly leads to the scourge of CRIME, HIV/AIDS & SUBSTANCE ABUSE.

  4. FAS is more than a disability – it's a social disorder that causes many of the expensive problems which plague governments, and all of us. On both a financial and personal level, we are all affected by the secondary disabilities and consequences of FAS: learning disabilities, early school drop-out, juvenile delinquency, poverty, chronic unemployment, sexual acting-out (promiscuity, teenage and unwanted pregnancies, prostitution, sexual assault, child-molesting, rape), AIDS, mental illness, homelessness, violence, crimes against property, theft, murder, gangsterism, alcoholism, drug smuggling, drug addiction and substance abuse.


  6. There is no "inclusiveness" for people with FAS. In general, our society has very little compassion for those thousands of individuals whose damaged brains lead them to crime, homelessness and addiction. Instead, we assume that they have chosen to behave as they do. Few people realize that the severely acting-out teenager, the addicted prostitute, the homeless beggar, or the man charged with killing his girlfriend's baby may all behave as they do as the result of brain damage caused by their mothers' drinking during pregnancy.

  7. Prevention programs and treatment programs for alcoholic women could dramatically reduce the incidence of FAS. Early diagnosis and new techniques of therapy, medical treatment, education and residential facilities, could allow people with FAS to lead productive lives, and save our nation millions of rands that could be diverted for other disabilities.

  8. Mental / neurological damage caused is irreversible and cannot be restored.

  9. The FAS-child/adult could never exercise a choice as to whether he or she would consume alcohol or not in the mother’s womb. This decision was taken solely by the mother on his or her behalf.

  10. Research into FAS is one of 4 priority areas of the National Department of Health, as well as the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of the Witwatersrand.

  • "A new baby is like the beginning of all things - wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.” ―Eda J. Le Shan

  • “Drinking during pregnancy is linked with disaster – personal disaster for the ‘bright-eyed ones,’ disaster for their families and their hope for their young, and disaster for . . . society as we struggle to pay the huge price of this destruction.” - Prof. Ann Streissguth, Ph.D.

  • "If you're pregnant, don't drink. If you drink, don't get pregnant" - Eva Carner

  • "Every day is FASD Awareness day" - Teresa Kellerman (