Alcohol and Pregnancy
In 1973, the French pediatrician Lemoine Paul reported for the first time the coNection betwEn facial malformations of newborns and alcoholic mothers. Soon after this discovery, other researchers have confirmed that fetal exposure to maternal alcoholism can cause a large number of fetal abnormalities. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) affects an average of two U.S. babies in every 1,000 live births. Among 1,000 children, 3-5 are affected partly because they present some (but not all) symptoms of this syndrome. The Control Center for Neonatal Malformations estimated that 1 in 10 adults with FAS have mental retardation. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Features
When doctors determined the diagnosis of FAS, they based it on the history of the mother's alcohol use during pregnancy. Also, doctors may see one or all of the following features: abnormal facial features, growth deficiencies and central nervous system dysfunction.
The disease is sometimes diFicult to detect because some babies do not have these features at birth. The term fetal alcohol effects (FAE) describes children and adolescents affected more or less by the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
Most babies suffering from FAS have a small weight and size at birth. Usually, they have smaller heads (microcefali) and many of them have typical facial features: bulging forehead, eyes iMersed in the orbit, short nose, red and dry uPer lip, chin in, not fully developed mouth, opening in the palate and / or deformed ears.
In aDition, children with FAS may show abnormalities in joints, curvature of the spine, heart problems and genital defects. Serious Consequence: Mental Retardation
The most severe expreSion of FAS is mental retardation, the average IQ being 65. Children are rated as having normal intelligence and do not show this symptom until they go to school, when problems with learning disabilities, memory, lack of concentration, impulsivity and feelings of confusion arise. They tend to be lazy, indolent, rebellious and hard with teachers and parents.
Many of these unfortunate children will grow and become tEnagers and adults who caNot live independently because of adjustment problems, diFiculty in making decisions and due inability to learn from their experiences.
Depending on the habit of drinking mothers, babies affected by FAS may experience symptoms even in the first 24 hours of birth. It may be in the form of: tremors and / or convulsions, irritability, muscle "stiFnes", whole body spasms, a high frequency of breath, abdominal distension and / or vomiting. What Amount of Alcohol is Harmful?
Doctors caNot say precisely what amount of alcohol harms the baby or in what stage of pregnancy the fetus is more affected. Therefore, all pregnant women, nursing mothers or women plaNing to have a child should keep in mind these warnings and quit drinking completely. In aDition, the husband should suPort his wife and quit drinking during pregnancy.
Prevention of FAS
Parents who suspect that the child might suffer from FAS, should seek the advice of a doctor. A medical geneticist or a pediatric neurologist can see the child and can clearly determine his situation. But the best treatment is prevention of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome!
Information obtained from consultants are useful to help parents raise a FAS affected child, give him the special education that he needs in order for him to be able to reach his full potential.