Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Moms, Please Think Before You Drink!

For those who are unfamiliar with the term FASD, it refers to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. This broad term describes a wide range of effects that can and do occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during her pregnancy.

This term includes:

  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Fetal alcohol effects
  • Neurodevelopment alcohol related disorder
  • Alcohol related birth defects

The good news is that FASD is 100% preventable.

Did you know that as many as 40,000 babies are born with an FASD? This actually costs our nation about $6 billion dollars a year.

  1. An expectant mother should understand that there is NO known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy.
  2. There is also, NO safe kind of alcohol to drink during pregnancy either.
  3. The effects (results) can include:
    • Physical problems
    • Behavior problems
    • They struggle with learning in general.
  4. Generally speaking, quite often, a person has a mixture of the effects above.
  5. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the leading causes of mental retardation.
  6. The effects, last a lifetime.

There are a few different types of FASDs, depending on the symptoms. Below is a breakdown of what these are.

FAS Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

This defines the severe end of the whole term FASD. The most severe effect that comes from drinking alcohol during pregnancy is 'fetal death'. There may be:

  • Abnormal facial features
  • Growth problems
  • Problems with the central nervous system
  • There are also problems with learning
  • Memory
  • Their attention span
  • Communication
  • Vision or hearing

There may be a mixture of these effects for many. School tends to harder for some of these children and they have trouble making friends and getting along with others

ARND Alcohol Related Neurodevelopment Disorder

These children may have intellectual disabilities. They may also have problems with their behavior and learning. They may do poorly in school as well as:

  • Difficulty with math
  • Their memory
  • Their attention
  • Judgment may be compulsive

ARBD Alcohol Related Birth Defects

Inpiduals with this may have problems with their:

  • Heart
  • Kidneys and bones
  • With their hearing

They may also have a mixture of these symptoms.

To give a better understanding of how the above effects or results can take place, you have to understand that when a pregnant woman drinks any kind of alcohol, so does that beautiful unborn baby. When you drink, the alcohol goes into your bloodstream. A mother's blood flows through the placenta and then to the baby through their umbilical cord. This can cause a miscarriage, stillbirth and any number of lifelong disorders to your unborn child.

No one makes this choice intentionally; this can happen if we're un-informed. The whole purpose of this article is not only to save a beautiful unborn child, but hopefully to educate an expectant mother or a woman who is planning a pregnancy to make better-informed choices.

There are also many women who have an addiction to alcohol before and during pregnancy. They want to stop drinking but can't on their own. This is not only hard to admit to yourself, but seems impossible to admit to your doctor. There is help out there and a professional caring physician can help you through this. There are substance abuse programs, 12 step programs and counseling in every state. For those facing this situation now or if you know someone who needs help call 1-800-559-9503 for help and guidance. It's never too late.

Families with children that suffer from FAS have enormous issues to deal with throughout their lives. Not only is there physical, emotional, and education needs, many times there are financial needs for these children too. Children that may be dealing with symptoms of FAS, many need special education classes or special schools, psychotherapy and counseling. Often times, growing up they have emotional problems and they act out. Some drink, abuse drugs and there are some that turn to crime. Again, the good news is that this can be prevented.

Treatment for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Unfortunately, there is no cure for FASDs, it lasts a lifetime. Early intervention treatment can improve a child's development but there is no cure. Sometimes medication helps with some symptoms; there is behavior and education therapy and parent training. There is no ‘right' treatment that works for every child.

It helps if the child is diagnosed before 6 years of age. A stable home environment that's loving and nurturing is important during the child's school years. Any type of violence needs to be avoided in these children's lives also. Parents who suffer with drug or alcohol addictions need to get help and treatment because this is not the environment a child needs. This only makes the situation worse.

Alcohol which includes wine, beer and liquor is the leading known cause of mental and physical birth defects in the United States. One out of every 750 babies born with a pattern of functional, developmental and physical problems referred to as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Every year, about 40,000 babies are born with the symptoms of prenatal alcohol exposure.

These statistics can change for the better the more informed we are. Not every child born with FASD had a mother that abused alcohol or suffers from alcohol addiction. Most were unaware that this could happen even with occasional drinking during pregnancy. The important thing is we know now. For those that do have problems with alcohol and have formed addictions, now is the time to get help. It is never too late to take responsibility, ask for help and live. Parents also need to educate their sons and daughters at an early age of the dangers and effects of alcohol and drug abuse.

FASD Awareness Day 2010

September 9th is the eleventh annual FASD Awareness Day. This event is usually held at 9:09, the 9th minute of the 9th hour of the 9th day of the 9th month of the year. This date and time is used to remind women not to drink during the 9 months of pregnancy.

There is a FASDay.com web site that provides information on previous Awareness Day events and suggests activities that can be held in your community. FASD is 100% preventable and this is a great time to spread the word!

Websites used in this article
FASD Awareness Day http://www.fasday.com/
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Florida Resource Guide for FASD
Kids Health

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