Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a medical condition that comes from exposure to alcohol during their mother’s pregnancy. Exposure to alcohol can create a range of developmental, cognitive, and behavioral problems. These problems can appear in childhood at any time. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the most severe condition of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
The problems created by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome will vary from one child to the next. However, any of these defects are irreversible.
There is no known level of safe consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. If you drink during pregnancy, then your baby is at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading cause of preventable congenital disabilities and abnormalities in the United States of America.
If you, or someone you know, are struggling with addiction to alcohol while they are pregnant then call us today at (385) 327-7418. Our professionals will work with you to get you the help that you need.
Read more below all about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Let us help you get the help that you are looking for today.
Causes of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome comes from exposure to alcohol while in the womb. Alcohol is capable of interrupting fetal development at any stage of the pregnancy. Potential exposure includes the early weeks of pregnancy when you might not know you are pregnant. Alcohol can easily pass from the mother’s bloodstream into the developing baby through the umbilical cord.
Some of the most severe effects occur in the brain, resulting in problems with how the brain works.
It is possible to see physical deformities in someone with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Deformities could be fingers that are mismatched in size or possibly missing part of an arm. Remember, when babies are in the womb, their only job is to take in all the nutrients, all the good stuff provided to them, and develop properly in the right amount of time. Because all the nutrients, oxygen, and blood are supplied through the umbilical cord, the baby will absorb the alcohol in the mother’s system. Therefore, if a mother drinks alcohol, it will affect all development areas, including physical and mental capabilities.
At this point, you might wonder, “why can’t the baby break down alcohol as the mother can? Isn’t that what the liver is for?” And you are right. That is the job of the liver. However, the baby does not have a fully formed liver. Because the liver is not fully developed, they do not have the enzymes that break down the alcohol. Those enzymes come later in life. No enzymes mean the alcohol builds up in the baby quickly and does not break down.
Risks of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
With every drink consumed during pregnancy, the chance of developmental impairment increases. It is best to avoid any amount of alcohol if you are pregnant, could be pregnant, or trying to get pregnant.
The severity of harm caused by alcohol consumption depends on several factors. There are the obvious categories: what trimester you are in, the quantity of alcohol, and frequency of consumption.
When it comes to frequency of consumption, doctors are primarily looking at drinking habits. Are you consuming five or more drinks two or more days per week? Are you drinking every day or every weekend? Have you increased or decreased your alcohol intake since becoming pregnant?
There is also evidence that high stress during pregnancy can affect the likelihood of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Along with social isolation, living in a home where excessive drinking is encouraged, and a lack of access to prenatal care. Research has also shown that outcomes of prenatal alcohol exposure may be affected if the mother has poor nutrition, multiple pregnancies, a lower than average body mass index, or a history of smoking.
Symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Keep in mind, while some characteristics might be present during pregnancy or at birth, we may not know many of the behaviors until later in childhood. The severity of fetal alcohol syndrome varies from child to child. Signs or symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome include a mix of physical defects, cognitive disabilities, and problems functioning or coping in daily life.
Alcohol during pregnancy can affect many physical aspects of the child. One of the more apparent areas is height. Many times, they will be shorter and weigh less than their peers. They are often in the lower 10% of weight and size for their age. In children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, you will notice they have smaller eyes, a fragile upper lip, and the area between their nose and lip will be smooth.
Furthermore, the more alcohol the child was exposed to during pregnancy. The more exaggerated these facial features will appear. Physical symptoms are often the first way doctors can tell if the child has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
For instance, physical defects might include:
- Heart defects
- Problems with kidneys and bones.
- Vision difficulties or hearing problems
- Small head circumference
- Deformities at joints, limbs, and fingers
- Slow physical growth during pregnancy and after birth
- Distinctive facial features like little eyes, thin upper lip, an up-turned nose, or smooth skin between the nose and upper lip
Brain and Central Nervous System
The primary feature of fetal alcohol syndrome is brain damage. Brain damage happens because alcohol affects the neurons trying to build in the baby’s brain during pregnancy. Doctors and researchers can see changes in the brain sections’ shape when the child has brain imaging done. They can tell which areas are underdeveloped and which area of the body will be most affected. However, this imaging is not a standard protocol for diagnosing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This imaging is typically reserved for research cases only.
For example, some central nervous system issues can include:
- Poor memory
- Poor decision making
- Trouble with attention
- Rapidly changing moods
- Jitteriness or hyperactivity
- Poor coordination or balance
- Trouble processing information
- Difficulty understanding consequences
- Learning disorders or delayed development
Social and Behavioral Problems
Along with the mental and physical problems attributed to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can come social and behavioral issues.
For instance, common social and behavioral problems can be:
- Poor social skills
- Difficulty in school
- Poor concept of time
- Problems staying on task
- Learning and remembering
- Communicating and socializing
- Trouble getting along with others.
- Controlling emotions and impulsivity
- Understanding and following directions
- Difficulty planning or working toward a goal
- Trouble adapting to change or switching from one task to another.
If you or someone you love is suffering from these symptoms, then call us today. Our experts will work with you to get you the help that you need. Please do not wait until it is too late. Save the life of a child, call us today, and start a better life tomorrow.
Is Treatment Available for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?
Caring for a child with fetal alcohol syndrome takes a lot of patience. While there is no cure for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, there are learning and behavioral interventions to help those with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Some of the best treatments will come from within the home. Some “protective factors” include diagnosis before the age of 6. They are supplying a loving, nurturing, and stable home environment and an absence of violence.
For example, family support groups help parents learn how to care for a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. School-based interventions include unique teaching strategies to create a consistent routine and allow the child to practice new skills.
Occasionally, medications are prescribed. These medications are often antidepressants or antianxiety prescriptions for treating depression or anxiety symptoms. There is a category of drugs called neuroleptics to help with aggression or stimulants to help treat a lack of focus or hyperactivity.
It is also important to take nutritional supplements made specifically for pregnant women before, during, and after the pregnancy.
Knowing if Your Baby Has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
You do not always have to wait until the baby is born to know if Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is present. Sometimes, a healthcare provider can spot severe side effects of fetal alcohol syndrome during an ultrasound. Although you should keep in mind, there is no blood test or diagnostic test of any kind to confirm if the baby will have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome accurately. The earlier your doctor knows you have had alcohol during your pregnancy, the earlier they can look for complications. While they cannot reverse any defects spotted during the pregnancy, the staff will be better prepared during the labor if a complication is caused by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
The only way to prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is to avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome cannot be reversed once they acquire it. If you have a drinking problem and want to get pregnant, seek help from a medical professional. If you are a light drinker or socially drinking, quit drinking at once if you’re becoming pregnant or are pregnant.
When to Get Help
Sometimes women feel like their doctors have blown off their concerns, passed judgment on them, or felt like they were wasting the doctor’s time. However, there are times it is important to speak up, ask your questions, and say your concerns. Being pregnant and having an active alcohol addiction is one of those times.
Do not wait until a problem appears to get help. If you struggle to quit drinking alcohol and want to become pregnant or are pregnant and cannot stop drinking, call us today. Our specialists will help you get the proper treatment for you and any future children you have. Do not hesitate. Call us now and start your healthier lifestyle.