Department of Psychiatry

​​Research - Research Units 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Epidemiological Research-South Africa (FASER-SA) project 
Trajectory of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) across the Life Span: New Understandings and Interventions​​

Project Overview

The Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Research Study was established as a collaborative endeavour of the University of North Carolina (UNC, USA). The University of New Mexico (UNM, USA), the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of Stellenbosch University (SU), and the Medical Research Council of South Africa (MRC). The research is funded by a grant from the USA National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

The Group’s mission is to contribute to a better life for all by reducing the prevalence of FASD through ethically and socially acceptable comprehensive prevention activities with local communities through collaborative research.
The study communities are Wellington, Robertson, and Ashton. (BRAM area). The group uses several aims components to assess health knowledge and alcohol and drug use patterns including:

  • Initiate early intervention / remediation research, via random assignment, case control studies, on development through nutritional and cognitive / behavioural enhancement techniques for children with FASD from 24 months of age forward including: physical and behavioural markers at various ages (6 wks., 9, 18, 42, and 60 months).
  • Continue, and initiate with a new cohort, detailed longitudinal study of the physical and cognitive / behavioural developmental trajectory of children from the new-born period to seven years of age.
  • Initiate an efficacy study of biomarkers for alcohol consumption: EtG (ethyl glucuronide), FAEE (fatty acid ethyl esters), will be matched to detailed information on alcohol consumption (by quantity, frequency, timing, and variability) provided by women via face-to-face interviews for cross-validation. This aim will be facilitated by continuing selected (secondary) prevention of FASD in antenatal clinics.
  • Initiate new methodology to study the nutrition of women while pregnant via a survey of multiple nutrients (including all major vitamins, minerals, and micro nutrients key to prenatal development) through 24- hour dietary recall with the NDSR and blood sample analysis. This aim will be facilitated in the new study by continuing tertiary prevention trials via the treble approach in case management and evaluating its efficacy. The treble approach involves utilizing the principles of social work and principles from Motivational Interviewing.
  • Complete all IOM prevention activity and rigorously evaluate the impact of nine years of IOM-recommended comprehensive prevention efforts on the broader community with:
    • A third survey of the community on Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviours (KABB) and
    • Repetition of in-school studies of the prevalence and characteristics of FASD to compare with baseline.

FASER-SA Team Staff

Stellenbosch University
​Prof Soraya Seedat,

Prof Charles Parry,​

Anna-Susan Marais, B Cur Nursing, Programme Manager,

Marlene de Vries, M Social Work, Project Coordinator

University of New Mexico, USA
​Prof Phil May 

Wendy Kalberg

​Wellington Team
​Marise Cloete (Senior Project Officer)
Tel: 021 873 2933​

Howard University, USA
Dr Cudore Snell

​BRAM Team (based in Robertson)
Carisa Siemens (Senior Project Officer) 
Tel:  023 626 5669

​​Andrea Engelbrecht, M.Th Theology (Administrator) 
Tel: +27 21 938 9345

For more info, contact the programme manager,

Anna-Susan Marais, at:
Telephone direct: 021 938 9393; Office / Messages: 021 938 9345
Cell: 082 377 6890


Prof Soraya Seedat
Tel: +27 21 938 9374