When a mother is pregnant with a child, her unborn baby essentially consumes everything that she also puts into her body. This is why doctors tell expectant mothers that it is absolutely imperative that they do not consume any type of drugs or alcohol while they are pregnant with their child.
Unlike adults, fetuses do not have the ability to process even very small amounts of alcohol. For this reason, babies whose mothers drink alcohol while they are in the womb may suffer a number of major lifelong consequences, also known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Even though the dangers of drinking while pregnant have been known for some time, the unfortunate reality is that each year approximately one in every 750 babies born suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. What exactly are the consequences of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and what can be done to prevent it?
A Lifetime of Consequences
When a mother drinks alcohol while pregnant, she puts her child at risk for developmental disorders that often impact a child for their entire life. These developmental disorders may take a number of different forms, but can include low birth weight, and a small head circumference.
When a child is born with a low birth weight, they are subject to serious medical issues, which may include respiratory problems, as well as issues with the functioning of their heart. Many of the problems that result from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may not be detected until a child gets older.
A child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may experience behavioral issues, such as poor socialization skills, hyperactivity, and learning disorders. Some of the learning disorders associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome include having trouble with retention and the ability to process key ideas and concepts.
When a child suffers from behavioral and learning disorders like these, they often suffer long term consequences. The inability to process information or to operate within certain social structures often plays a large part in making it difficult or impossible for a child to do well in school which, in turn, drastically impacts their ability to hold down a job as adults.
Another possible effect of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is organ dysfunction. Babies born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may have major organs that cannot do the important jobs that their bodies rely on them to do in order to adequately process things like food and air.
This can be a very serious problem, and some children who are born with organ dysfunction will have to have organ transplants or major and invasive surgery in order to correct the problem. This puts a child at serious risk at a very young age.
Other children will have their quality of life permanently impaired by organ dysfunction, as they are unable to engage in physical activities that other children enjoy, or they may have serious dietary and other lifestyle restrictions.
The Consequences of Drinking While Pregnant Are Many
It is impossible to tell exactly which kind of health issues a mother who drinks may pass on to her unborn child. Doctors do know that the risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is extremely high for any child who is exposed to alcohol in the womb, and it is almost certain that a child who is given alcohol while developing will suffer major consequences of some kind.
Expectant mothers who know that they have a problem with alcohol dependency should seek the help they need to get sober immediately. With treatment and counseling, a mother can ensure that she abstains from alcohol for pregnancy and beyond and does not put her unborn child in jeopardy.