Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a term to describe various birth defects caused by the intake of alcohol when pregnant. These birth defects can be physical, mental, or behavioral in nature. Children born with FAS are typically underweight babies who may display certain physical anomalies such as flattened cheeks and philtrum. As children afflicted with FAS age, they often exhibit learning disabilities and attention and memory problems. They may also have speech impediments or hearing disorders. FAS cannot be cured, but it is preventable by avoiding alcohol during pregnancy and inpatient perinatal treatment.
When an expectant lady drinks an alcoholic drink, it enters her bloodstream, and then it enters the baby’s bloodstream through the umbilical cord as well. The alcohol present in the baby’s bloodstream can cause the birth defects associated with FAS. Even in the early stages of pregnancy, drinking alcohol can cause the physical deformities associated with FAS.
As the baby develops in the womb, further defects with mental and physical growth can occur if the mother consumes alcohol. There is no safe time when pregnant to consume alcohol, and there is no safe alcohol to drink consume this state. A glass of wine or beer is just as harmful to a fetus as a shot of hard liquor or a mixed drink.
The Lasting Effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
FAS is not curable, and the problems associated with FAS will last the child’s entire life. Some people afflicted with severe FAS will be unable to care for themselves as adults and will be unable to hold a job or participate in social groups. However, some children with lesser degrees of FAS can be helped. They will need adequate medical care and a school support team to assist them with their learning disabilities.
How to Prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Not all women who consume alcohol while pregnant will have a child afflicted with FAS. However, every pregnancy is different, so a woman who drank during her first pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy infant may not be so lucky the second time around. Not consuming alcohol is the only way to prevent FAS. If a woman drinks alcohol before she is aware that she is pregnant, she should stop drinking immediately once her pregnancy is confirmed. This will greatly increase the chance that her child will be born healthy. To fully guard a child against FAS, it is wise to abstain from drinking while trying to get pregnant since a woman may not realize she is pregnant for weeks after the fertilization occurs.
While the effects of FAS are devastating to both baby and mother, they are easily preventable by simply avoiding alcohol during pregnancy. Whatever a pregnant woman puts into her body, and she shares with her unborn child. So for every sip of alcohol she takes, her baby takes that sip as well. Being a good parent starts well before a child is born. It begins with taking every precaution to ensure that your baby has the best chance possible to lead a normal and healthy life. Not drinking while pregnant is the first step.