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International FASDAY: September 9, 2010

“Help them reach their goals – prevent FAS” 

Annually, FASfacts commemorates International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Day. This year is no different. It is of upmost importance that we are constantly reminded of the devastating effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Research has shown that in the Western Cape high risk areas, approximately 9.5% of children are born with FAS. Therefore donations such as the R4.3 million recently received from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and the R1million from SA Breweries are so vital to the success of our FAS prevention programmes.

In the Northern Cape, figures are just as shocking. In fact, according to research done by FARR, De Aar has the highest recorded instances of FAS in the whole of the country – and possibly worldwide.

Most of us are aware of the devastating effects of FAS: mental disabilities, deformity, and lack of social awareness and responsibility but to name a few. This has far reaching consequences on our communities, parents and most importantly – our children. It is with this in mind that FASfacts’ aim is to decrease the prevalence of FAS by all means possible.

2010 so far, has been an exciting and groundbreaking year for all South Africans. Already a sport crazy nation, with the FIFA 2010 World Cup, we have all witnessed and took part in the greatest sporting event on earth. With this still very fresh in our minds, the theme of 2010’s International FAS Day is Help them reach their goals – prevent FAS. Ultimately – when a mother drinks whilst pregnant – she will cause the baby to have FAS – and prevent that child from reaching his or her goals in life.

It is almost impossible to measure the vital importance of sport in communities. Having said that, it is clear that where people practice sport – whether its table tennis, rugby, soccer or netball – the impact and benefits are incredible to the people and communities. This year our aim is to give our future – the children – a kick start in the right direction by handing over soccer, rugby and netballs to schools and communities in the Western and Northern Cape provinces. We have been very fortunate to receive additional funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (R150 000) and SA Breweries (R90 000) which has enabled us to purchase the sports equipment and host events in Worcester & Upington to do the hand-over. This will serve as an encouragement to stay away from the dangers of substance and alcohol abuse, and therefore build a healthier, stronger future South Africa.

International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Day is held each year at nine minutes past nine on the ninth day of the ninth month to draw attention to the fact that women should not drink alcohol for the duration of their pregnancy. Across the different time zones of the world, bells ring out to raise the awareness of this preventable condition. Therefore the 9th September 2010 serves as the perfect opportunity for us to hand over sports equipment to 89 schools and 21 rural sports clubs.

Facts about FAS in South Africa

  • An estimated 25 000 babies are born with FAS every year in South Africa.
  • South Africa has the highest frequency of FAS reported in one population anywhere in the world.
  • The prevalence of FAS in countries such as America varies from 0.1 to 0.8%, whereas in South Africa FAS is as high as 12.2% in some areas.
  • The prevalence rate of Fetal Alcohol Exposure is far higher than the recorded FAS rate (between three to five times higher).
  • FAS is the largest cause of mental retardation in most industrial nations.
  • FAS is found amongst all races and across all socio-economic groups.
  • Alcohol during pregnancy, regardless of quantity, can cause permanent brain damage.
  • FAS is 100% preventable.
  • There is no cure for FAS.

  • "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 (