What is FASD?
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a congenital disability in children as a result of their mother’s drinking alcohol during conception or pregnancy. FAS is the most severe form of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (all caused as a result of alcohol taken by a pregnant woman during the period of conception). Although there are different symptoms from child to child, it’s known to cause physical disabilities, brain and central nervous system defects, and social and behavioral impediments.
Types Of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)
There are various types of FASDs, all based on the kind of symptoms a child displays. They are;
● Alcohol-Related Congenital Disabilities (ARBD): Children with ARBD usually have heart, kidney, or bone defects, as well as issues with hearing. Sometimes, they might have a mixture of all of these symptoms.
● Alcohol-Related Neuroendevelopment Disorder (ARND): Intellectual incapabilities and problems with learning and behavior are the symptoms seen in children with ARND.
● Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS): Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the most severe type of FASDs. Children with FAS have a brain and central nervous system problems, physical defects, and growth disabilities. These defects display themselves in the child in aspects of learning, communication, attention span, vision, hearing, and memory. Generally, they struggle with school and have problems relating to others in social situations.
Causes of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is caused by a woman drinking alcohol – any alcohol, including wine and beer – during pregnancy or conception. Babies in the womb do not have a fully developed liver capable of processing alcohol, so it damages their development, resulting in the brain, kidney, bones, and central nervous system defects.
However, the damage done to the baby depends on the period of conception when the alcohol is consumed. If it’s consumed during the first trimester, it results majorly in brain damage. If it’s ingested much later in the pregnancy – second and third trimester – it results in growth defects, behavioral and learning inadequacies, and brain damage. As such, no time during pregnancy is safe to consume alcohol. Also, no amount of alcohol is safe to consume during pregnancy, as any amount, no matter how little, can lead to FAS.
Symptoms of FAS
While the symptoms of FAS vary from child to child, it can, however, lead to brain and central nervous system defects, physical disabilities, and social and behavioral problems.
Physical Defects Caused By Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Vision and hearing difficulties
- Growth problems before and after birth
- Facial defects like small eyes, thin upper lip, smooth skin surface between the nose and upper mouth, and a short, upturned nose
- Deformed joints, hands, and fingers.
- Small brain size and head circumference
- Heart, kidney, and bone defects
Brain Defects Caused By Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Intellectual and learning disabilities
- Poor memory and retention abilities
- Poor attention span
- Reasoning and problem-solving difficulties
- Hyperactivity and jitteriness
- Poor balance or coordination
- Problem processing information
- Poor judgment skills
Social And Behavioural Disabilities Caused By Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Poor social skills and trouble relating to others
- Difficulty in school
- Poor concept of time
- Problems with adapting to change or switching between tasks
- Poor impulse control
- Behavioral problems
- Problems with planning and working on/completing set goals
Preventive Measures Against Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has no cure. However, women are advised to stay off alcohol entirely at any point during conception or if they’re trying to get pregnant. Women who are having unprotected sex should stay off alcohol in case of an unplanned pregnancy. No amount of alcohol, no matter how small, is safe during pregnancy. In the case of alcohol addiction, you are to see a doctor or any professional medical expert for help.
In the case where a baby or child has gets diagnosed with FAS, there are specific preventive measures to take to help the child cope with the condition. Some of these measures are speech-language and physical therapy, mental health counseling, biofeedback, and creative art therapy.