Did You Know That Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Affects Child Birth?

By: MIKE SELVON

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome affects approximately 1-2 out of every 1,000 births. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can have many subtle side effects such as: trouble learning, impaired development, mental retardation, facial deformities and an inherited propensity to drink.

When you are drinking alcohol, it enters your bloodstream and travels to the placenta, where it interacts with the baby. Since babies metabolize alcohol content much slower than adults, the baby's blood alcohol content will naturally be much higher than his or her parent's. The presence of alcohol can deprive the baby of nutrients and impair regular development.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the few known preventable causes of mental retardation. Physical features of someone with FAS may include any or all of the following: small eyes, a short upturned nose, small head circumference, a thin upper lip, a cleft palate, light sensitivity, hypoplastic kidneys, a short neck, and deformed joints or limbs. It's likely that prenatal exposure to alcohol will have side effects, like slow physical growth/development before and after birth, vision or hearing difficulties, hyperactivity, poor impulse control, extreme nervousness, learning disabilities and a short attention span.

Drinking during the first trimester, when the most basic developments are taking place, is what causes the facial distortions of babies with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. In the early weeks of pregnancy, women may not even know they are pregnant. In France, more than half of pregnant women reported having an occasional glass of wine.

In fact, they see nothing wrong with drinking while pregnant. In America, this is highly discouraged, although doctors find it hard to pinpoint how much alcohol consumption is too much and some say that one glass of wine may actually help development. Of course, binge drinking at any stage of pregnancy can certainly kill a baby and most health professionals discourage even trace amounts of alcoholic drink.

To diagnose Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, doctors look at a few basic characteristics, such as unusually low birth weight and size, evidence of physical retardation, such as a small head, small eyes, short eye opening, underdevelopment of the upper lip, a groove between the lip and nose, an upturned nose and flattened cheekbones, as well as intellectual impairment. FAS can be difficult to diagnose before and after birth, may be confused with many other disorders and doesn't have the scientific backing that many other disorders have, thus making it hard to deal with.

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