Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome ?

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a disorder that is due to exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. There are many problems that result from fetal alcohol syndrome including behavioral problems, mental retardation, vision deficits, physical deformities and learning disabilities

The abnormalities which result from fetal alcohol syndrome, are permanent, but the severity of the associated symptoms tends to differ from one affected to another.

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There are no known and permissible limits of alcohol consumption that is allowed during pregnancy. Women who consume alcohol in any amount are at a greater risk to conceive children with fetal alcohol syndrome

In case, parents suspect that their child is affected by fetal alcohol syndrome, then they should immediately consult a doctor. An early detection can result in effective treatment and drastic reduction in the risk to problems such as substance abuse and learning problems

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Statistics

  • As per the CDC, fetal alcohol syndrome tends to occur in around 0.2 to 1.5 percent of every 1000 live births in the some parts of the United States.
  • Other studies have reported the rate of incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome as occurring in 0.5 to 2.0 percent of every 1000 live births
  • The rate of alcohol consumption by women, who are capable of bearing children, tends to differ as per the different states.
  • About 1 in every 8 pregnant women, have reported some alcohol intake in the past thirty days. This figure has remained constant over the last 15 years.
  • About 1 in every 50 pregnant women, have reported binge drinking in the past thirty days
  • Around 14.4 percent of college graduates, 17.7 percent of women between 35 to 44 years of age, 13.4 percent of unmarried women and 13.7 percent of employed women; who were pregnant were most likely to accept alcohol consumption.
  • Women who regularly consume alcohol may generally end up consuming alcohol during pregnancy as they may not be aware of their pregnancy until much later.

Symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome does not result in a single congenital defect. It refers to a bunch of associated problems, and the most severe of the conditions caused due to exposure to alcohol while in the womb. The range of disorders caused due to prenatal alcohol exposure is known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a common of mental retardation. Some of its signs and symptoms are discussed below:

  • Unique facial characteristics such as an extremely thin upper lip, tiny eyes, an upturned, short nose, and the presence of velvety smooth skin in the area between the upper lip and the nose
  • Mental retardation
  • The physical growth pre and post birth is usually slow
  • The limbs, joints and fingers may be deformed
  • Hearing difficulties and/or vision problems
  • Poor coordination
  • The brain size and the head circumference is generally small
  • Presence of learning disorders
  • Presence of cardiac defects
  • Diminished attention span, poor control of impulse, anxiety, hyperactivity, high levels of nervousness and other abnormal behaviors may be present

It is important to note that the facial features of individuals affected by fetal alcohol syndrome may not be different from those elicited by normal individuals. Hence, an expert is usually required to diagnose the presence of the disorder.

Causes of fetal alcohol syndrome

When a pregnant woman consumes alcohol, it travels to through the bloodstream, crossed the placenta and arrives at the growing fetus. The developing baby is not capable of metabolizing alcohol at the rate of an adult. This leads to a higher concentration of alcohol in the baby’s body. Alcohol also tends to disturb the passage of adequate nutrition and oxygen to the growing tissues of the fetus, which includes the brain.

Intake of greater quantities of alcohol during pregnancy greatly increases to the risk of the baby developing fetal alcohol syndrome. The risk to the disorder is present at all times of pregnancy. However, when a woman consumes alcohol during the first trimester of pregnancy, then it greatly increases the risk to developing defects of the face, heart, the central nervous system, the bones and other organs. This is because the above mentioned organs are in the vital developmental stages during the first trimester.

It is important to know that there are no safe limits of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and even minimal alcohol intake can result in the baby developing fetal alcohol syndrome

Treatment  for fetal alcohol syndrome

There are no known cures for fetal alcohol syndrome. The treatment generally focuses on alleviation of the many symptoms of the disorder as well as prevention of complications. Some of the treatments include:

  • Surgery for heart defects and other physical abnormalities
  • Physical therapy for alleviating the physical symptoms
  • Psychotherapy, counseling and behavioral therapy for dealing with the emotional, social and behavioral problems that may afflict the child with fetal alcohol syndrome
  • A strong family support system is necessary to prevent the affected children from substance abuse, alcohol abuse, juvenile delinquency and also to progress academically.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Pictures

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