Fetal Alcohol Effects

Fetal Alcohol Effects

The dangers of being pregnant and consuming alcohol are not myths, but dangerous facts. Studies conducted by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have pointed adamantly toward this fact. Women who consume alcohol during their pregnancy must be made aware of the physical damage they’re causing their developing baby. The baby, the fetus, should never be exposed to alcohol.

In the United States, birth defects caused from fetal alcohol effects are a big problem. Fetal alcohol effects are also 100% preventable. The unfortunate reality is there are thousands of babies born with fetal alcohol effects due to exposure while in the womb. What mothers don’t realize is, when they’re pregnant, drinking alcohol is poisonous to their developing baby.

The old wives tale that one alcoholic beverage per day while pregnant is OK is just that a wives tale. The slightest exposure, even just one drink per day, is enough to place the developing baby at risk for birth defects that could affect them for the rest of their lives. Even just a small amount is enough to cause permanent damage. Fetal alcohol effects last beyond that of developing in the womb and infancy, but can also cause problems on through adolescence.

Fetal Alcohol Effects

Here are some Fetal Alcohol Effects Pregnant Women Should be Aware of:

  1. There could be developmental delays, as well as slow growth delays.
  2. Babies may experience more irritability, neurological disorders, attachment problems, and brain disorders.
  3. Learning disabilities could become your child’s reality when they reach school age, including with reading and comprehension.
  4. Children may also experience issues with frustration, anger, and impatience.
  5. Studies further indicate problems on into the child’s teenage years where they experience anxiety, depression, and early experimentation with sex.

The condition by which negative effects occur as a direct result of drinking alcohol while pregnant is called Fetal Alcohol Problems (FAP). Another group, which is more specific in its symptoms directly associated with drinking alcohol while pregnant, is referred to as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). There are a different set of problems associated with FAS pregnant women should take note of:

  1. Deformities with Facial Features – These deformities may be apparent immediately from the time of infancy, or they may become more pronounced as the child begins developing. This is a case-by-case situation.
  2. Delayed Development – This could be anything from issues with not latching on when the mother attempts to breastfeed the baby to the infant not crawling or walking at their target age. This is difficult to predict, but important to pay attention to in order to incorporate early intervention.
  3. Neurological Issues or Brain Damage – These issues become more pronounced as the child continues developing. Issues with sight, hearing, speech, and gross motor skills could all become an issue. Issues with walking and coordination could also become a part of the child’s reality. This is another case where early intervention is important.

Because the issues with FAS are so serious, the child suspected of experiencing this condition must go through careful evaluations. These evaluations are conducted by child psychiatrists, pediatricians, and other specialists deemed necessary and appropriate for treatment. The child’s behavior is rarely associated with FAS and it is a condition overlooked all too often. There is no known way to reverse any damage done to the brain while it was affected by alcohol in the womb.

The good news though is the earlier it is diagnosed the better it is for the child. While these issues cannot be reversed, the disability’s severity could improve. Intervention practices include occupational and speech therapy. Children experiencing FAS may also need to enroll in special education classes. As mentioned earlier, all of these issues are completely avoidable. With all the resources available to pregnant women today, education and help is available to every woman of every income level.

For those pregnant women who learn of their pregnancy and are unable to stop drinking, they must speak with their OBGYN in order to get the help necessary to quit. This help must be obtained as soon as possible regardless of how difficult or challenging the situation is. There are programs throughout the country available to treat such issues promptly, thoroughly, and respectfully. These programs have the same goal in mind as the pregnant woman to quit immediately and protect the development of the developing fetus.

The bottom line is simple if you are pregnant or expect to become pregnant in the near future, do not drink any alcohol whatsoever. There are no exceptions to this rule despite what you hear from friends and relatives. The best thing you can do you for your future child is to keep all toxins away from your body and remember you control what the growing fetus within your womb is or is not exposed to at all times.

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