What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the most dreaded effects of drinking alcohol. It is a health condition commonly found in developed countries. When women drink alcohol during their pregnancy, it not only affects their own health. It also takes a toll on the health of the baby that is still in foetus. When the baby is finally born, it is found to suffer from some abnormalities. These are the direct effects of alcohol abuse. The disease was first described by P. Lemoine and his associates in France in 1968. They observed over 100 children of alcoholic parents to analyse the disorder.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Causes
The Fetal Alcohol disorder is caused mostly due to one reason. The consumption of alcohol by pregnant women is the single-most cause of this terrible disease. It is to be noted that alcohol consumption does not always lead to the birth of this disorder. But all cases of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome are found to be the result of alcohol abuse.
How does Fetal Alcohol Syndrome happen?
During pregnancy, women are advised to have a well-rounded diet. This boosts their health by supplying their body with the essentials proteins, vitamins and minerals. It is also highly beneficial for their health as well as the growth of the foetus inside them. But alcohol is a highly strong substance. Naturally, it has an adverse effect on the health. The Foetal disorder results from the harmful effects of alcohol on the body of pregnant women. When a would-be mother drinks alcohol, it enters the placenta through the umbilical cord. It crosses into the bloodstream of the foetus. The unborn baby is thus exposed to the substance. Alcohol affects the neurons and central nervous system of the child. This damages its physical structure and growth. When the baby is finally born, it begins to grow with abnormalities. The defects become more pronounced as the baby grows up. These continue to affect its health and social capabilities even in its later life.
Symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
This dreaded health condition leads to some pronounced physical defects in a child. These physical impairments almost always have an effect on the mental capabilities of the baby. Here are some of the most important Fetal Alcohol Syndrome symptoms:
Premature exposure to alcohol can hinder the growth of a baby. Sufferers of this syndrome are often found to grow to a height lesser than average persons.
The weight of a baby with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is generally lower than normal.
Babies with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are born with a small head circumference.
The babies with this disorder grow at a slower rate than average persons.
Children with FAS are generally found to have several abnormalities in their facial structure. These are :
- Small eye width
- Flat cheekbones
- Flattened groove between nose and upper lip
- Thinned upper lip
FAS sufferers are born with several nerve impairments. These are :
- Defective motor skills resulting in learning disabilities and clumsiness
- Loss of hearing
- Poor pace of walking
- Defective memory
- Impaired social skills
There may also be some related abnormalities like heart murmurs, joint defects, hearing difficulties and renal problems.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Statistics
The Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the major causes behind the intellectual disability in the western countries. Go through some facts and figures associated to the condition.
- In the USA and Europe, 1 in every 100 children is found to be born with this disorder. The Surgeon General of the United States as well as the British Department of Health strongly advises pregnant women against drinking alcohol.
- Every year, around 40, 000 children are born with this health condition in the US.
- In the US and Canada, women are strongly advised to avoid alcohol during their entire pregnancy. Reportedly, 30% women in the US touch alcohol sometime during their pregnancy.
- The economic cost of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome in the US is 800,000 dollars. This is the total amount spent on medical and other social expenses in the lifetime of all persons born with the condition.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Treatment
There is no specific treatment for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. Persons suffering from FAS can be admitted in special schools to help them cope with learning disabilities. Behaviour problems can be removed by strict maintenance of routine at home.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Prevention
The disorder can be prevented only by avoiding alcohol totally. A recent study in Britain has found that pregnant women can have two drinks a week without affecting the health of their children. The study has generated a lot of controversies and not without reason. According to doctors and researchers there is no safe threshold limit for drinking alcohol. Even a small quantity of the substance can permanently damage the health of the unborn child. So remember, when you drink your baby does so too. It is best to keep yourself away from alcohol while you are pregnant. Otherwise, you will have to live forever with guilt and remorse if your baby develops the dreaded Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Pictures of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Check out the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome photos to know this condition better.