A three-year research study into the prevalence of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) among primary school pupils in Kimberley’s two communities of Roodepan and Galeshewe is at an advanced stage.
The study is being conducted by the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR).
Since May this year pupils from 14 primary schools in the two communities have participated in an FAS study.
FAS is a pattern of mental and physical defects that can develop in a foetus in association with high levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
South Africa has the highest rate of FAS reported worldwide and Northern Cape is a leading province in the country in FAS reported cases.
About 85% of the 1585 Grade1 pupils assigned to the study were screened and clinically assessed. Neuro development testing and maternal interviews will commence towards the end of this year.
“The outcome of this study will provide the Northern Cape with its third FAS rate and will bring this province closer to obtaining an FAS prevalence rate for the entire region said Adrian Botha, spokesperson for the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use.
Botha said through the association’s funding, FARR had grown over the past 15 years “from producing research to administering a tangible awareness, prevention management and training programme”.
“While South Africa has the highest rate of FAS reported worldwide, the sterling work done by FARR has resulted in the first ever decrease in a FAS prevalence rate in the world,” said Botha.
She said in addition to implementing an FAS prevalence study, the foundation would also be running it’s highly successful Healthy Mother Healthy Baby programme in the communities.
“The programme serves as a guide through the exciting process of pregnancy for expectant and new mothers,”she said.
“It focuses on nutrition, exercise and abstinence from harmful substances such as smoking and alcohol,”Botha said.
Through the invitation of the provincial government, FARR has also recorded notable successes in De Aar, where a 30% reduction has been reported since 1997.
Prompted by the success of the prevalence study in De Aar, the organisation was invited by the government to implement a similar three-year programme in Kimberley.
Next week Monday marks National FAS Day throughout South Africa.