Fetal alcohol syndrome is known to create real struggles for the ones whose mothers have not learned about the importance of staying away from alcohol drinking during their pregnancy. The physical and neurological issues that this disorder is known to lead to are the ones that we need to be afraid of. In the following, we will explore the most common issues that result from fetal alcohol syndrome in order for you to understand why drinking alcohol is not an option during your pregnancy.
What Are Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)?
Women who consume alcohol during their pregnancy can later give birth to babies with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, commonly known as FASDs. It is an umbrella term that is used to describe a variety of physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning issues in the child. Since the fetus is not able to process alcohol in a way that our adult bodies are capable of doing, the alcohol is causing direct damage to the cells in their bodies, affecting their nervous system and all of the internal organs, which leads to the obvious fetal alcohol spectrum disorders after birth.
It has been suggested that around 40,000 babies are born each year with the symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the United States alone. In this group of disorders, the following disorders are to be included:
- Fetal alcohol syndrome;
- Partial fetal alcohol syndrome;
- Alcohol-related birth defects;
- Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder;
- A neurobehavioral disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome And Its Definition
Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the most severe forms of disorders under the term fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Somewhere between 800 and 8,000 babies are diagnosed with the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome in the United States. Fetal alcohol syndrome causes characteristic signs and symptoms regarding the physical and mental capabilities of the baby after birth.
All of the abnormalities that have happened due to alcohol exposure during pregnancy are permanent. Certain treatment options are offered as a way to make a child’s life easier. Some of the best doctors can share certain prevention methods that you can easily implement in your life. Fetal alcohol syndrome is easily prevented by avoiding alcohol all throughout the nine months of pregnancy, as well as during the time when you are preparing your body for the pregnancy that it is to happen.
What Causes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?
As mentioned earlier, fetal alcohol syndrome is caused by alcohol exposure during pregnancy. The damage can be caused early in the first three months of the pregnancy when, often, women fail to notice that they are carrying a new life in them. This, in fact, is considered to be the most dangerous time to consume alcohol during pregnancy. But the damage can be caused later throughout the pregnancy when the mother is intentionally drinking alcohol despite the known pregnancy. Often, alcohol exposure leads to a loss of a pregnancy, whereas in other cases leads to the development of fetal alcohol syndrome.
What Are The Characteristics Of A Child With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?
Although there are many characteristic signs that are pointing out to fetal alcohol syndrome, the following three characteristics are the most valuable ones while diagnosing fetal alcohol syndrome in newborns/children.
- Facial Abnormalities – A smooth area between the nose and the upper lip which is thinner than normal, small eyes, and a smaller than normal head;
- Poor Growth – Lower than average weight and/or height;
- Central Nervous System Abnormalities – The presence of structural, functional, and/or neurological abnormalities. Often, it is a combination of these three types of abnormalities that it is present within these children.
Symptoms In Babies, Children, And Adults
Babies with fetal alcohol syndrome fail to develop properly according to what is considered to be a normal child’s development. Their physical and mental status will develop with a certain delay, which will cause them additional difficulties later in life.
Due to fetal alcohol syndrome, children can be diagnosed with;
- Cerebral palsy, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which are all challenges on their own.
- Problems with their kidneys, lungs, liver, and heart can exist as well.
- They can also struggle with vision and hearing problems as well
- learning difficulties, thinking problems, memory issues, and fail to develop proper social skills.
All of these issues influence the quality of life later once these individuals step into adulthood. Some adults who have a milder version of the fetal alcohol syndrome often do well in their lifetime, not facing any of the major neurological issues. However, the most severe cases of fetal alcohol syndrome require help for the rest of their lives and are often incapable of attending school, work, and are completely dependent on the people around them. Adults with fetal alcohol syndrome tend to often get into trouble with the law as well as to abuse often heavy alcohol drinking themselves, but also to abuse drugs.
There is no safe amount of alcohol that will help you have a good time without causing issues related to your pregnancy and your little one in the womb. Fetal alcohol syndrome includes the most severe signs that develop as a result of alcohol exposure during pregnancy. From memory and learning issues, cerebral palsy, and autism, to physical development issues, and a failure to develop normal social skills – there are a variety of symptoms that every mother should shield her baby from.
Doctor, author and fitness enthusiast, Ahmed Zayed, MD, is a surgery resident with a passion for helping people live a happy healthy life. He is the author of numerous health-related books and contributor to several medicine, health and wellbeing.