Fetal alcohol syndrome refers to the physical and mental defects that could develop in a fetus due to the consumption of alcohol by the mother during the course of pregnancy. The following HerHaleness write-up provides information on this condition.
Alcohol abuse by a pregnant woman puts the fetus at a risk of developing physical and mental defects. It must be noted that there is no safe limit for alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is one of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). It is characterized by the development of physical deformities, mental retardation, learning disorders, vision difficulties, or behavioral problems in the fetus due to the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. There is no cure or specific treatment for FAS, as many different problems are involved. The treatment options for FAS vary, depending on each individual case and the severity of the case. The defects could last a lifetime, but administering treatment might prove beneficial.
FAS is a condition caused by the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol reaches the fetus through the placenta. It is metabolized rather slowly in a fetus, when compared to adults. The level of alcohol in the fetus increases, and this interferes with the transportation of oxygen and nutrition. This abnormality causes a number of defects of the developing fetal organs, brain, tissues, as well as nervous system. Thus, the baby is at a risk of developing a number of defects and ailments like brain damage, kidney problems, bone defects, heart diseases, etc.
FAS is not just one disorder, but a cluster of defects that affect the fetus. Mental retardation is one of the main characteristics of FAS. The other symptoms include:
- Facial abnormalities like low nasal bridge, small head circumference, undefined groove between nose and upper lip, etc.
- Developmental characteristics like small stature, small head, dental problems, limb and joint deformities, problem with hearing and eyesight, etc.
- Brain damage which leads to learning disabilities, hyperactivity, mental retardation, poor judgment, and logical skills.
- Poor social skills
- Lack of imagination
- Poor communication skills
- Poor memory
Though alcohol consumption must be avoided, in case a woman has continued to take alcohol during pregnancy, she must inform the doctor. This will help the doctor in diagnosing the effects of alcohol on the fetus. Once the baby is born, the pediatrician will assess the child’s growth, facial features, motor skills, language skills, behavior problems, cognitive abilities, vision, hearing, condition of the heart, growth abnormalities, etc.
As mentioned earlier, there is no cure for fetal alcohol syndrome. The treatment aims at improving the life of the child, and taking steps for correcting the defects. This includes helping the child with hearing aids in case of hearing problems, correcting vision, occupational therapy, etc. In case the child has a heart problem, surgery might be recommended. Early diagnosis is essential. Children with learning disabilities and poor social skills need special care. Social service workers can help these children and their families cope up with their problems. Community and family support is very important for children affected by FAS.
Treating FAS is not very easy, which is why pregnant women should refrain from drinking any amount of beer, wine, whiskey, champagne, or drinks containing alcohol. It is a matter of the life of an unborn child. Do not take away the chance to live a fuller, healthier, and normal life from your own child. Stop drinking alcohol when pregnant. If you have further queries, speak to your doctor for more details.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.