Researchers are learning that even small to nominal amounts of alcohol can be hazardous to an unborn fetus, often leading to what is known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or FAS.
As you can imagine, FAS occurs when the mother drinks during pregnancy and later manifests in physical and developmental deficiencies, particularly in the form of difficulty with academics, hand eye coordination, socializing, emotional maintenance, and maintaining employment among others.
With that said, research continues to indicate and reflect that FAS is a serious concern and one that is a particularly growing concern, as approximately 30 percent of women drink during their pregnancy. Alcohol consumption by a pregnant woman can effect fetal development at every stage of pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester and often during the time when she is unaware that she is even pregnant.
The form of drinking that often poses the greatest risks is the type that results in binge drinking and is particularly dangerous, often resulting in severe developmental delays. It occurs when the woman consumes at least four drinks during any one particular occasion. Binge drinking during pregnancy frequently results in severe brain and neurological damage, which leads to a host of behavioral, cognitive and developmental problems that are recognized at different stages of childhood and adolescent development.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, or FASD, encompasses a full range of disabilities that occur as a result of maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. In fact, statistics show that approximately one percent of children suffer from complications resulting from FASD.
Some familiar subtypes of FASD include: Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Effect, and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects.
In addition, those suffering with FASD generally have lower IQs, suffer from memory and attention problems, are often hyperactive, have deformed facial features and FAS-related height abnormalities, poor motor function, are extremely impressionable, suffer from weight abnormalities, and often do not comprehend the consequences of their decisions and actions among others. Other factors that are of consequence in how FAS exposure impacts a child’s development beyond how much and at what stage a woman drinks are lack of awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder as well as exposure to stress, lack of proper nutrition and inadequate prenatal care.
Perhaps you have consumed alcohol during your pregnancy or maybe even adopted a child and you are worried that your child may have FAS. Well, consult a physician and in the meantime, look for the following characteristics: facial abnormalities, that include small upper lip and small forehead; poor coordination and fine motor concerns, lack of imagination, poor problem solving skills, social withdrawal, and low birth weight.
Original article: niaaa.nih.gov
Photo courtesy of kidshealth.org