Ana Theresa Williams BSN RN
We all know that drinking alcohol while pregnant will affect the growth and development of the fetus while inside the womb. Unfortunately, there are some pregnant wo-men who just simply ignore these warnings; instead the unborn baby suffers the most of it, particularly from fetal alcohol syndrome.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a condition in a child that results from alcohol exposure during the mother’s pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome causes brain damage and growth problems. The problems caused by fetal alcohol syndrome vary from child to child, but defects caused by fetal alcohol syndrome are irreversible.
There is no amount of alcohol that’s known to be safe to consume during pregnancy. If you drink during pregnancy, you place your baby at risk of FAS.
If you suspect your child has FAS, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis may reduce the risk of problems such as learning difficulties and behavior issues.
The severity of FAS symptoms varies, with some children experiencing them to a far greater degree than others. Signs and symptoms of FAS may include any mix of physical defects, intellec-tual or cognitive disabilities, and problems functioning and coping with daily life.
Physical defects may include distinctive facial features, including wide-set eyes, an exceptionally thin upper lip, a short, upturned nose, and a smooth skin surface between the nose and upper lip; deformities of joints, limbs and fingers; slow physical growth before and after birth; vision difficulties or hearing problems; small head circumference and brain size; and heart defects and problems with kidneys and bones.
Problems with the brain and central nervous system may include poor coordina-tion or balance; intellectual disability, learning disorders and delayed development; poor memory; trouble with attention and with processing information; difficulty with reasoning and problem-solving; difficulty identifying consequences of choices; poor judg-ment skills; jitteriness or hyperactivity; and rapidly changing moods.
Problems in functio-ning, coping and inter-acting with others may include diffi-culty in school; trouble getting along with others; poor social skills; trouble adapting to change or switching from one task to another; problems with behavior and impulse control; poor concept of time; problems staying on task; difficulty planning or working toward a goal.
If you’re pregnant and can’t stop drinking, ask your obstetrician or other members of the health care team for help.
Because early diagnosis may help reduce the risk of long-term problems for children with fetal alcohol syndrome, let your child’s doctor also know if you drank alcohol while you were pregnant. Don’t wait for problems to arise before seeking help.
HEALTHWATCHING: My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 1 John 2:1