Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a preventable but debilitating condition that affects babies whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a type of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This condition is caused by a child’s exposure to alcohol while in the womb. During early pregnancy, many women are unaware that they are expecting. It can take between 4 to 6 weeks for a woman to realize she is pregnant. During those early weeks, moms-to-be may be drinking while unknowingly pregnant.

In the United States, 1 out of every 8 women drinks while pregnant. Based on those statistics, it is no surprise that FAS affects about 40,000 American babies annually. According to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), pregnant women should not drink alcohol. Whether it is a glass of wine, beer, or cocktail, alcohol is known to cause destructive effects on a fetus’ development. Unfortunately, drinking while pregnant is the most common cause of congenital disabilities and intellectual disabilities in America. Many expecting moms are usually not forthright about their drinking habits. They may also not remember when was the last time they had a drink or how many. The stigma around drinking while pregnant makes its proper diagnosis challenging. The condition is problematic and more common than people think.

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Alcohol, Pregnancy, And Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

When a pregnant woman drinks, she introduces alcohol to her bloodstream. The alcohol quickly travels throughout her body. It reaches the uterus, circulates to the umbilical cord, and eventually reaches the baby. Once the alcohol passes through the placenta, a fetus’s risk for congenital disabilities skyrocket.

Fetal alcohol syndrome can result in a range of physical, mental, behavioral, and learning difficulties like:

  • Small head size
  • Shorter than average height
  • Low body weight
  • Poor coordination
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Difficulty with attention
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty in school (especially with math)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech and language delays
  • Intellectual disability (low IQ)
  • Low reasoning and judgment skills
  • Sleep and sucking problems as a baby
  • Vision or hearing trouble
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney issues
  • Bone complications

In severe cases of FAS, children are diagnosed at birth. The child may have strange physical features or facial abnormalities. Symptoms of FAS vary from child to child, but its consequences are irreversible.

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Children With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

There are countless children with FASD, but fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most common. Out of every 100 kids, 1 to 5 suffer from FAS. In other words, about 5% of the population has an FASD. The disorder causes significant issues with a child’s central nervous system. They may have a mix of difficulties that involve learning, memory, and communication. A child with FAS may also have minor facial features and growth problems.

Children with fetal alcohol syndrome can have problems at home or school with:

  • Learning
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Problem-solving
  • Poor coordination
  • Impulsiveness
  • Speech development
  • Hearing

People with fetal alcohol syndrome tend to have a difficult childhood and a hard time in school. Without treatment, children with FAS lack the proper skills to make friends. These disorders can make a child’s life difficult, especially if they are battling a mix of symptoms.

Treatment For Children With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Finding treatment for children with fetal alcohol syndrome is crucial. They must be diagnosed early by a medical professional. On average, children show symptoms of FAS around 8 months after birth. Through early intervention, Medical professionals can reduce FAS related problems. If a parent suspects their child may have FAS, they should see a physician right away. Though every child has unique experiences, the sooner children with fetal alcohol syndrome receive therapy, the higher their quality of life.

Preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Even though the risk of FAS increases with greater amounts of alcohol consumed, any amount of alcohol during pregnancy can put a baby at risk. Even drinking alcohol before a woman realizes she is pregnant can lead to FAS. For this reason, alcohol should not be consumed if an individual is pregnant, think they may be pregnant, or is trying to become pregnant. Those with an AUD who are trying to get pregnant should seek treatment prior to getting pregnant.

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Find Help For Alcohol Addiction

As of now, there is no cure for fetal alcohol syndrome. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is dangerous and likely to reduce a mother’s and child’s quality of life. The only way to prevent FAS is by abstaining from alcohol while pregnant. A pregnant mother should stop consuming alcohol immediately. If you or a loved one are currently pregnant and can not stop drinking alcohol, please seek help. It is never too late to stop. FAS is 100% preventable. Reach out to a treatment provider today.

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