Expectant mothers who consume alcoholic drinks risk harming their developing children, the Forum for the Development of Youth with Disabilities (FDYD) has warned.
FDYD executive director Rex Kalima sounded the warning Wednesday when the organisation conducted a disability awareness campaign at Ntenje Full Primary School in Blantyre.
Kalima said consumption of alcohol by expectant mothers can affect the way the baby develops at any stage of the pregnancy and may cause lifelong disabilities called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (Fasd).
He said alcohol can cause a range of physical and mental problems from mild to very severe. He said most of these problems will not be noticed at birth and may not be obvious until the child is much older.
Said Kalima: “Effects caused by alcohol use in pregnancy are different for each child, but may include brain damage, birth defects, social and behaviour problems, developmental delay and poor growth. These effects are life-long and are usually not noticed at birth.
“We, therefore, wish to advise women of the childbearing ages to desist from taking alcohol to save the developing children from physical and/or mental problems.”
Group Village Head (GVH) Ntenje confirmed that alcohol use is high among pregnant women in his area.
But Ntenje attributed it to ignorance on the effects alcohol can have on the developing child.