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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – Causes, Risk factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

(Alcohol in pregnancy; Consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, FAS)

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) belongs to a group of disorders called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. It originates when a woman consumes alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol can cause abnormalities of birth and in the development of the baby. These anomalies make up the FAS.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Causes

Alcohol can be transmitted from the mother’s blood to the baby’s blood. It passes through the placenta. Even a small amount of alcohol can harm the fetus. Doctors do not know how much alcohol ingested is enough to cause defects. The risk increases with moderate to intense alcohol consumption and excesses. But even the social habit of drinking alcohol could be dangerous.

Any type of alcohol can cause birth abnormalities. Blood that is transmitted from the placenta from the mother to the baby.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Risk factors

Factors that increase the likelihood of the baby having FAS:

  1. An unplanned pregnancy
  2. Do not recognize the beginning of pregnancy and continue drinking alcohol.
  3. Alcoholism.
  4. Lack of information about the risks of drinking during pregnancy.
  5. Advanced age of the mother.
  6. Low socioeconomic situation.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Symptoms

Birth and developmental abnormalities depend on when the fetus was exposed to alcohol.

Babies who have FAS can experience the following physical symptoms:

  • Low birth weight
  • They are very small and with retarded growth
  • Small head
  • Small eyes
  • Nose short and flattened
  • Flattened cheeks
  • Small jaws
  • Ears formed in an unusual way
  • Thin upper lip
  • Tremors or agitations
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Heart defects
  • Small brain or with malformations
  • Minor defects in the joints that can restrict movements
  • Teeth prone to tooth decay
  • Vision problems
  • Infections in the ear

As the child develops, it may manifest other symptoms, for example:

  • Difficulty eating and sleeping
  • Delay to learn to speak
  • Learning disability
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Under IQ
  • Mental retardation
  • Lack of coordination
  • Behavioral problems
  • Little ability to control impulses
  • Problems to socialize with other children

Children do not overcome these anomalies. When they are adolescents or adults, they experience social and emotional problems. They can develop secondary diseases, including:

  • Problems at school
  • Inability to keep a job
  • Difficulty living independently
  • Mental health problems
  • Dependence on alcohol or drug dependence
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Difficulty controlling anger
  • Legal issues

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about the intake of alcohol during pregnancy. The child’s growth will be evaluated. You will have a physical exam. The diagnosis is based on the following:

  • History of alcohol consumption
  • Characteristic facial appearance
  • Slow growth
  • Nervous system problems

Some children who suffer from this disease do not have the typical physical characteristics. The disease is described as follows:

  • Effect of alcohol on the fetus
  • Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder

Timely diagnosis can help your child receive the appropriate services.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Treatment

There is no specific medical treatment for this disease. Timely intervention is useful as well as a place where support and security is provided.

Social services

Professional help helps the family deal with the care of a child with birth problems. Services include family support and parent training. You can learn strategies to control behavior problems and stress management techniques.

Special education

Programs designed to meet your child’s needs improve learning. For example, it is possible that messages should be repeated. The tasks can be divided into small steps.

A supportive environment

  • Provide uniform direction and structure.
  • Keep the routines.
  • Establish simple rules, limits and consequences.
  • Praise the desirable behaviors.
  • Do not threaten Violence and abuse increase the risk that the child will learn to react in a similar way. Your child may need special training to learn anger management strategies.

How to Prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

  • Avoid drinking alcohol if you are pregnant or if you are trying to get pregnant. Also, take folic acid to avoid other birth defects.
  • Avoid drinking excessively when you do not use contraceptives. The damage can occur even before you know you are pregnant.
  • If you can not stop drinking, seek medical help.
  • Use contraceptives even when you are able to stop drinking.
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