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Comparison of baseline drinking practices, knowledge, and attitudes of adult s residing in communities taking part in the FAS prevention study in South Africa

CDH Parry
JP Gossage
A-S Marais
R Barnard
M de Vries
J Blankenship
S Seedat
PA May


Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) has been identified as among the most serious consequences associated with hazardous and harmful drinking in the Western Cape province, South Africa. Community surveys were conducted in two wine growing regions in this province to assess drinking behaviour, guide interventions and serve as a baseline for assessing the impact of population-level interventions. As part of a cross-sectional comparative study interviews were conducted with 384 and 209 randomly selected adults in the prevention (PC) and comparison communities (CC) respectively. Over 80% of respondents resided in urban areas, except in
the CC, where 61% of males resided on farms. Symptoms of hazardous or harmful drinking were reported by 16.0% of females and 32.5% of males in the PC, while 19.3% of females and 56.2% of males in the CC reported such drinking. Over two-thirds of respondents indicated that it was equally harmful for a woman to drink during any of the trimesters of pregnancy, but more than 30% of the women interviewed had never had a health worker speak to them about the effects of drinking during pregnancy. Over 10% had never heard of fetal alcohol syndrome. The findings reinforce the need for interventions to address hazardous/harmful use of alcohol in
both communities and also to address gaps in knowledge regarding the effects of drinking during pregnancy.

Key Words: Alcohol, epidemiology, pregnancy, South Africa