Pretoria – Watching your child grow up to be healthy and able to stand up for themselves will be nothing but a pipe dream for mothers who continue to drink during pregnancy.
Instead, those mothers will have to deal with their child having deformities of joints, limbs and fingers; slow physical growth before and after birth; problems with their vision, hearing, kidneys, bones and heart defects.
This was according to a presentation by Makati Nkuna, a professional nurse from the South African National Council on Alcoholism (Sanca) at the Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Workshop held at Kekana Gardens Clinic in Hammanskraal yesterday.
Speaking to young women and young mothers, Nkuna stressed how important it was to stop drinking three months in advance if they were planning to fall pregnant.
She said the reason for this was to ensure that the mother’s body was clear of the destructive and harmful effects of alcohol on a growing foetus.
“Alcohol is one of the many teratogenic substances which disturbs the development of the foetus during pregnancy.
“That substance is also found in things like nyaope, cocaine and cigarettes. So whatever the mother takes, be it sand or those substances, the baby gets it too.
“We are trying to inform mothers out there who simply ignore us and think we’re just blabbering nurses that at the end of the day, they will be the ones left struggling with their child.”
Remembrance Mokwena-Ngulele, a social worker and office manager from the council, said they were trying to warn young mothers in the area on the dangers of alcohol and the effects thereof on their unborn children.
She said the initiative, funded by the City of Tshwane, was on a par with their belief to run a preventative programme instead of waiting for the problem to arise.
FAS, the most severe form of the foetal alcohol spectrum disorders, includes a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during her pregnancy, and problems can include an abnormal appearance, short height, low body weight, small head size, poor coordination, low intelligence, and behaviour problems.
Those affected are likely to have trouble in school, legal problems, high-risk behaviour, and have trouble with alcohol or other drugs.
Mokwena-Ngulele said the issue of alcohol abuse was more of a socio-economic factor and some of the women present had already picked up other habits that could lead to child disability that they were not aware of.
“I believe that as long as our preventive efforts can save just one child or one family, it would be enough. As the city and organisations, we have a long way to go but we do have success stories.”