The Eastern Cape Liquor Board on Thursday ran an awareness campaign to educate women on the dangers of drinking alcohol when pregnant.
The purpose of the gathering at Mdantsane’s NU 15 community hall was to teach pregnant women about foetal alcohol syndrome (Fas).
Board spokesperson Mgwebi Msiya said they had run a survey in Port Elizabeth and the results were shocking.
Msiya said of the 1,000 women who were polled, 130 of their children were affected by Fas.
“We are worried about the high rates of Fas in the province because it is indicative of a deep societal problem.
“We want to educate women and raise awareness about this condition, which can be avoided.
“Women must know that Fas is non-reversible and we encourage women to simply stay away from alcohol while they are pregnant,” he said.
Msiya said Fas was non-discriminatory and affected women of all social standings, class and education. “Fas is blind to status. The quantity of alcohol does not matter so women cannot say they have just one glass of wine with their supper or anything to that effect.
“Our message to men is that they support their partners and that they too should give up alcohol so that they do not tempt their pregnant partners.
“Other family members should also be supportive because it takes a village to raise a child and protect it,” he said.
Msiya also called on women to refrain from drinking alcohol when they were breast feeding.
“In addition to all of this, we would also like to urge all liquor traders to refrain from selling alcohol to pregnant women.”
Zintle Beleni and Siphokazi Jobela, who is eight months pregnant, said they had both stopped drinking alcohol during their pregnancies, after they were informed of the danger to their unborn babies.
“I was drinking because my partner was abusive and not supportive.
“I thank God that my daughter, who is now six weeks old, is healthy and I stopped drinking alcohol before she was affected,” Beleni said.