Pregnant teenage girls drinking alcohol during pregnancy face the risk of giving birth to babies with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). This was highlighted during a recent conference of the Rotary Club of Bloemfontein Thabure. The conference focused on measures to curb the spread of FASD within and on the outskirt of Mangaung. A team of clinical psychologists presented their initiatives on FASD prevention. Nosipho Sondiyazi, president the Rotary Club, said the conference followed initial findings of FASD cases amongst teenage mothers. She said the findings proved that pregnant teenage girls on farms and in urban schools who continue drinking alcohol increase the risk of giving birth to babies with FASD. “These effects can include physical problems, behaviour and learning.“FASD lasts a lifetime and there is no cure for it. However, research shows that early intervention treatment can improve a child’s development. FASD is preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy,” she said. Sondiyazi said Heidedal was the flash point in the urban areas of Bloemfontein where pregnant teenage girls continue to drink alcohol. “The findings are causes for great concern. Pregnant teenage girls drinking alcohol increase the FASD scourge. The conference was a first step to finding a means of preventing the sharp rise of FASD cases,” said Sondiyazi.She said they have identified sport and education programmes in schools focusing on FASD as measures to prevent the scourge. “We are targeting schools to form a partnership as we plan to introduce sport programmes. “Through these sport programmes, greater awareness will be created, teaching both girls and boys about FASD at a young age. “If they are aware of FASD, they can also talk to their parents about the problems caused by it, which is a result of drinking alcohol during pregnancy,” said Sondiyazi.“We want schools within and around Bloemfontein to be actively involved to increase awareness and to educate teenagers about FASD,” said Sondiyazi.The Grassroots Soccer programme has been identified as the possible vehicle to target youth in the community. According to Jeff de Celles of the USA Grassroots Soccer Programme, the initiative has been successful in spreading the message and enabling youth to avoid the temptation of alcohol abuse. He said the programme was in full swing in towns such as De Aar and Kimberley in the Northern Cape. Sondiyazi said to intensify awareness programmes and to implement sport programmes against FASD, organisations from the different towns in the Northern Cape would be involved.