Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? Did you know that in U.S. 5000-12000 babies each year have their first drink even before they are born? Please stop for a second and give it a thought, is your baby going to be next in the row? You certainly do not want that, none of us do but the million dollar question is, are you ready to quit drinking alcohol to avoid incurable damages to the baby’s face and brain?


Any amount of alcohol ingested by the pregnant woman passes through the placenta (an organ attaching the unborn baby to the maternal circulation) entering right into the fetal blood stream. Alcohol begins to accumulate in the fetal body thereby preventing an efficient delivery of oxygen to the developing brain and other vital organs.

What Happens To The Baby in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

There is a whole spectrum of abnormalities a baby can suffer from. They vary from mild deficits to really severe ones. The given image shows how the baby will.

1. Look Like

  • Small head size
  • Thin upper lip
  • Flat cheeks
  • Small eyes
  • Short, upturned nose

2. Low Birth Weight

3. Slowed Growth

4. Mental Retardation

5. Defects In Central Nervous System Like:

  • Poor memory
  • Slow language acquisition
  • Seizures
  • Delayed fine motor skills like holding objects and writing.
  • Delayed gross motor skills like sitting and crawling.

6. Hearing Loss

7. Vision Defects

8. Kidney Defects

9. Heart Problems

What Happens When This Baby Grows Up Into An Adolescent?

The above mentioned deficits give birth to a lot of social issues like

  •  Depression
  • Psychotic behavior
  • Troubles in school due to learning disabilities and aggressive, uncivilized behavior.
  • Drug abuse
  • Violations of law since these individuals are unable to comprehend intentions of people around them and may easily get manipulated by criminals.
  • Lack of focus and hyperactivity
  • Rapid mood changes

How Much Quantity Of Alcohol Is Safe During Pregnancy?

No amount of alcohol is safe after you have conceived, the first three months of pregnancy being the most sensitive when the fetus is most prone to damage. You have to abstain from all kinds of alcoholic drinks including wine, whiskey, beer, vodka etc.

When To Contact Your Doctor?     

Inform the physician if you are a heavy drinker and are unable to quit the habit despite all efforts. Also, seek medical help instantly if you have been drinking during pregnancy and you suspect features of alcohol syndrome in the fetus. If you have an adopted child who is showing such behavior and learning abnormalities, consult the doctor to reach a diagnosis.

Is There A Cure?

Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse the damages inflicted on the baby. However, an early diagnosis maximizes the chance of improving the quality of life of the effected baby.

First and foremost step is to ensure a loving and secure family environment since the whole family has to be involved in the process of rehabilitation. Counseling of parents is essential to facilitate them in handling mood swings of the child. A team of physicians, teachers and psychologists needs to work on arranging special education sessions along with carrying outlearning and behavioral therapy.

A speech therapist should intervene at an early stage to assist the child in language acquisition. There is no specific drug to cure this syndrome however certain medications can aid in improving symptoms like;

  • Antidepressants to overcome depression
  • Anti-anxiety drugs for panic and distress
  • Brain stimulants to combat hyperactivity and lack of focus

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: What Do You Need To Do As A Parent?

  • If you are a mother who needs help with quitting alcohol, then instantly resort to group therapy or a 12-step rehabilitation  program like Alcohol Anonymous.
  • Identify your child’s areas of strength and weaknesses. Set up simple rules and routines that are easy for him to understand.  Attend parental teaching sessions to learn how to manage your child’s behaviors.

Remember, prevention is better than cure so say no to alcohol to give your child a healthy tomorrow.

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