Fetal alcohol syndrome is a type of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in children that is caused by alcohol exposure during the mother’s pregnancy. This can occur because alcohol passes from the mother’s blood to her baby through the placenta. The baby can’t process alcohol as well as the mother can, which can lead to defects in the baby’s health. Defects caused by this condition vary from child to child, but most common ones include the damage of brain cells, spinal cord and other parts of their body, and the disruption of the baby’s development in the womb. Sometimes, fetal alcohol syndrome can even result in the loss of the pregnancy. If the baby, however, is born, the caused damages will be permanent to them.
Because there is no amount alcohol that is known to be safe for consumption during childbearing, drinking during your pregnancy, will place your baby at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome.
To prevent such a condition, it’s important to be aware of what causes it, what are the most common symptoms, and which are the most effective ways to prevent it. Know this and more in detail by scrolling down below.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Causes
As the name tells itself, the main trigger of fetal alcohol syndrome is consuming alcohol when you are pregnant. The moment you drink, alcohol enters your bloodstream and reaches your developing fetus by crossing the placenta. Alcohol then leads to higher blood alcohol concentrations in your developing baby than in your body because a fetus metabolizes alcohol slower than an adult does. In this way, alcohol interferes with the delivery of oxygen and optimal nutrition to your developing fetus.
Being exposed to alcohol before giving birth, can harm the development of tissues and organs and cause permanent brain damage in your baby. So, the more you drink while you are pregnant, the greater the risk to your unborn baby. As there is no amount of alcohol known to be safe for consumption, any amount of alcohol puts your baby at risk, especially during the first trimester of your pregnancy when your baby’s brain, heart, and blood vessels start to develop, and before you even realize you are pregnant.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Symptoms
The severity of fetal alcohol syndrome symptoms is different from child to child. Some children may experience this condition’s symptoms to a far greater degree than others.
Usually, signs and symptoms of this syndrome include intellectual or cognitive disabilities, physical defects, and social problems. Let’s see for each and every group what kind of symptoms appear:
Intellectual disabilities (Brain and central nervous system problems)
– Learning disorders and delayed development
– Having troubles with attention and processing information
– Poor memory
– Difficulty identifying consequences of choices
– Difficulty with reasoning and problem-solving
– Poor judgment skills
– Rapidly changing moods
– Having a head circumference and brain size smaller than average
– Small eyes, a short, upturned nose, a thin upper lip, and a smooth skin surface between the nose and upper lip
– Deformities of joints, limbs, and fingers
– Poor physical growth
– Vision difficulties or hearing problems
– Heart, kidneys and bones problems
– Brain and central nervous system problems
Social and behavioral problems
– Having troubles getting along with others
– Having difficulties in adapting to change
– Problems with behavior and impulse control
– Poor concept of time
– Problems with focusing
– Difficulty planning or working toward a specific goal
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Prevention
There is no particular treatment for fetal alcohol syndrome, and the damage to your baby’s brain and organs can’t be reversed, as they are permanent. But early diagnosis and support can make a big difference.
You can avoid fetal alcohol syndrome if you don’t drink alcohol at all while you are pregnant. The higher the alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the greater the change your baby will have problems.
Therefore, don’t drink alcohol if you are pregnant, if you are sexually active and you are having unprotected sex, if think you might be pregnant, or you are trying to become pregnant. Many pregnancies are unplanned, so you might be risking your baby before you ever realize you are pregnant.
If you already are pregnant and suspect your baby has fetal alcohol syndrome, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis may help to reduce problems such as learning difficulties and behavioral issues. Whereas, if you are struggling with an alcohol problem before getting pregnant, get professional help to determine your level of dependence on alcohol and to develop a treatment plan. It’s never too late to stop drinking alcohol during your pregnancy, but the sooner you stop, the better it is for your baby’s health.
Therefore, play it safe, future mothers! Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix!