Fetal Alchol Syndrome Discussion as Underestimated Health Concern Essay

Fetal Alchol Syndrome Discussion as Underestimated Health Concern Essay

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The terms Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are used to incorporate the range of conditions that result from alcohol exposure of the foetus during the gestational period. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the most severe condition under the FASD spectrum (October, 2011). Children that display the complete phenotypic characteristics of FASD are termed to have FAS. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the most common preventable form of intellectual disability globally. South Africa has one of the highest incidences of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome worldwide, with the greatest prevalence reported in the Western Cape. This makes it a public health problem in the country (May, Gossage, Marais, Hendricks, Snell, Tabachnik & Viljoen, 2008). This essay shall attempt to describe what is meant by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and then discuss Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as a substantial and an underestimated health concern in South Africa, by outlining the need for expanded screening, surveillance programmes and preventative interventions.
Alcohol is a teratogen that has raised concerns about fetal developmental outcomes for years. When a pregnant woman consumes alcohol, it is carried to all her organs and tissues including the placenta. Alcohol has tissue toxins which may interfere directly with cellular growth and metabolism of the foetus; this is how researchers have concluded that prenatal exposure to alcohol leads to structural abnormalities, behavioural and neurocognitive disabilities resulting in low intelligence, behavioural impairments, poor social judgement, and general difficulty performing everyday tasks (Hannigan & Riley 1990).
In South Africa, in the Western Cape Province, there are high prevalence rates of FAS among children as stated by local c...

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...ildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the Western Cape Province of South Africa: A Case Control Study.
Philip A. May, PhD, Lesley Brooke, BS, J. Phillip Gossage, PhD, Julie Croxford, RN, BS, Colleen Adnams, MD, FCP, Kenneth L. Jones, MD, Luther Robinson, MD, and Denis Viljoen, MDAm J Public Health. 2000 December; 90(12): 1905–1912. Epidemiology of fetal alcohol syndrome in a South African community in the Western Cape Province. Am J Public health. 2005 july; 95(7): 1099-1101.

MF Urban, MF Chersich, L-A Fourie, C Chetty, L Olivier, D Viljoen South African Medical Journal Vol. 98 (11) 2008: pp. 877-882. Fetal alcohol syndrome among grade-one children in the Northern Cape Province: prevalence and risk factors.
Jorge Rosenthal, PhD, Mc, Arnold Christianson, MD, and Jose Cordero, MD. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Prevention in South Africa and Other Low-Resource Countries

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