A few months ago, I wrote about FASD Prevention in South Africa (January 12, 2011).

Last week, the Bulletin of the World Health Organization published a piece called “Fetal alcohol syndrome: dashed hopes, damaged lives.” Reporter Alicestine October provides an update on FASD in South Africa and interviews birth mother, Marion Williams, and researcher and human geneticist Denis Viljoen.

Viljoen works with the NGO Foundation for Alcohol Related Research. The organization works to address FASD by:

  • gathering scientific evidence to highlight the high rates of FASD in South Africa in the hope that government decision-makers will fund and initiate prevention programmes
  • training medical and social services staff to develop prevention programmes
  • raising public awareness.

The article also explores the social contexts in which alcohol use during pregnancy occurs. Williams lives in the Western Cape, one of South Africa’s wine-growing areas and which is believed to have the highest rates of FASD in the world.

heavy drinking partly stems from the 400-year-old practice of giving slaves and their descendants alcohol in recompense and to keep them captive through addiction… While the tot system, which was banned in the 1960s, entrenched a culture of alcohol abuse and still contributes to maternal drinking in the Western Cape, studies show that poor nutrition, ill health, stress and tobacco use also influence the severity of the effects of heavy maternal drinking.

 You can read the article here or download the free PDF.

Reference:

October, Alicestine. (2011). Fetal alcohol syndrome: dashed hopes, damaged lives. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 89:398–399. doi:10.2471/BLT.11.020611