Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Danger of Alcohol Addiction

A state of a very vulnerable condition is where a pregnant woman sits. During this time, she is hugely defenseless from different kinds of toxins and harmful substances. Alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs are some of the substances that may cause negative effects towards the fetus inside the mother’s womb. These substances are referred to as teratogens. These substances can make the baby sick. It can even result to delivering an abnormal baby.

Alcohol is one of the so called teratogens that can greatly affect pregnancies. When a woman is into alcohol addiction, this will be a very problematic case when she is pregnant. People may not be attentive of its harm and still allows a woman to take in alcoholic drinks during her pregnancy, but the effect of this would be carried by the baby for the rest of his or her life. Alcohol is one of the known causes of mental and physical birth defects specifically in the United States. Though, this is only a probability, the rate is high.

Whenever a woman ingests alcohol during pregnancy, a disorder called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can occur on her embryo. Alcohol crosses the placental barrier and can stunt fetal growth or weight, make distinctive facial stigmata, damage neurons and brain structures, and cause other physical, mental, or behavioral problems. The main effect of FAS is permanent central nervous system damage, especially to the brain. Developing brain cells and structures are underdeveloped or malformed by prenatal alcohol exposure, often creating a collection of primary cognitive and functional disabilities including poor memory, attention deficits, impulsive behavior, and poor cause-effect reasoning, as well as secondary disabilities for example, mental health problems, and drug addiction.

The signs and symptoms of having fetal alcohol syndrome are very small birth weight, undersized head circumference, developmental interruption, organ malfunction, facial abnormalities, including smaller eye openings, flattened cheekbones, and indistinct philtrum (an underdeveloped groove between the nose and the upper lip), epilepsy, poor coordination, poor socialization abilities, such as difficulty building and maintaining friendships and relating to groups, lack of imagination or curiosity, learning difficulties, including poor memory, inability to understand concepts such as time and money, poor language comprehension, poor problem-solving skills, behavioral problems including hyperactivity, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, stubbornness, impulsiveness, and anxiety.

As said earlier, damage of the central nervous system is the main feature of fetal alcohol syndrome. Central nervous system damage can be assessed in three areas such as structural, neurological, and functional impairments. Structural impairments may include microcephaly (small head size) of two or more standard deviations below the average, or other abnormalities in brain structure. On the first trimester of pregnancy, alcohol obstructs with the migration and organization of brain cells, which can create structural deformities within the brain. On the third trimester, damage can be caused to the hippocampus, which plays a role in memory, learning, emotion, and encoding visual and auditory information, all of which can make neurological and functional CNS impairments as well.

Neurological impairments are assessed whenever structural impairments are not observable or does not exist. Neurological problems are expressed as either hard signs, or diagnosable disorders, such as epilepsy or other seizure disorders, or soft signs. Soft signs are broader, nonspecific neurological impairments, or symptoms, such as impaired fine motor skills, neurosensory hearing loss, poor gait, clumsiness, poor eye-hand coordination.

When structural or neurological impairments are not shown, all four diagnostic systems allow CNS damage owing to prenatal alcohol exposure to be assessed in terms of functional impairments. Functional impairments are deficits, problems, delays, or abnormalities due to prenatal alcohol exposure (rather than hereditary causes or postnatal insults) in observable and assessable domains related to daily functioning, often referred to as developmental disabilities.

Although there are no evidences that will tell us the amount of alcohol that will produce birth defects, ingesting alcohol no matter the amount is still very dangerous. Letting go and recovering from alcohol addiction is the important step to take once a woman wants to bear a child.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the consequences of a pregnant woman who is into alcohol addiction.

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