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​If South Africa does not do anything, the country will soon be faced with a huge foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

The country has the highest prevalence of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the world, more than 14 times the global average.

According to research by the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research published in 2016 in the South African Medical Journal, foetal alcohol syndrome disorder rates in South Africa range from 29 to 290 per 1 000 live births. The global average is 7.7 per 1 000.

With this in mind, the City of Joburg’s Department of Health hosted an information session on the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy at Jeppe Clinic and was open to City residents on Monday, 10 September 2018. 

The City of Joburg is committed to providing residents with information that contributes to their wellbeing and improved quality of live. The City’s Health Department regularly conducts information sessions on health-related matters. 

Jabulile Magubane, a City Health Promoter, gave a passionate talk on foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. She said heavy drinking during pregnancy can harm a developing fetus and increase the risk of miscarriage or it can lead to a range of disabilities known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Children with fetal alcohol syndrome share certain facial features such as small eye openings, a thin upper lip, and a smooth philtrum (the groove between nose and upper lip). Other problems include:

Poor growth 
Developing babies may have heart, bone, and kidney problems. 
Vision problems and hearing loss are common.
Seizures and other neurologic problems, such as poor balance and coordination.
Behavioral problems. Babies may be fussy or jittery and have trouble sleeping. Older children and teens may have a lack of coordination and poor fine motor skills, poor social skills, learning difficulties, poor memory, hyperactivity, poor attention and concentration, stubbornness, impulsiveness, and anxiety

Magubane cautioned City residents “that there is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy and that pregnant women should stay away from alcohol”.

Joburg residents who have a drinking people can contact their local clinics and they will be put in touch with social workers.