Encyclopedia

Fetal alcohol syndrome

Description

Fetal alcohol syndrome /FAS/ is a condition in children due to exposure of the fetus to alcohol during the mother’s pregnancy.

The syndrome causes brain damage and growth disorders. The problems due to the condition vary from child to child, but the malformations caused are irreversible.

There is no established safe amount of alcohol that a mother-to-be can consume during her pregnancy. And therefore, if he does, he puts his child at risk of FAS.

If you suspect that your child may have acquired the syndrome, seek the help of your doctor as soon as possible.

Early diagnosis can reduce the risk of perceptual difficulties or behavioral disorders.

What are the symptoms?

The severity of the clinical manifestations varies and some children are much more severe than others.

Signs and symptoms of the syndrome may include any combination of physical defects, intellectual or cognitive impairments, and difficulty coping with basic matters of daily living.

Physical Defects

Distinctive facial features consisting of an excessively large distance between the two eyes, unusual sunken eyes, an extremely thin upper lip, a shorter nose and turned up at the tip, and a smooth surface of the skin between nose and upper lip;

• Deformations of joints, limbs and fingers;

• Slow body growth before and after birth;

• Weaker visual acuity and impaired hearing;

• Reduced head circumference and brain size;

Cardiac malformations and impaired kidney and bone structure;

Disorders in the brain and central nervous system

• Poor coordination and difficulty maintaining balance;

• Intellectual disorders, difficult perception of information and delayed development;

• Difficulty holding attention on one thing and difficulty analyzing information;

• Nervousness or hyperactivity;

• Frequent mood swings;

• Those affected cannot develop the skills to make an adequate judgement;

• They do not like to reason and solve problems;

• Difficult to identify the consequences of one or another choice;

Social and behavioral problems

• Difficulties in school;

• Poor social skills;

• Difficulty adapting to changes or switching from one task to another;

• Inability to control their behavior and impulses;

• Difficulty planning or unable to focus on achieving a specific work goal.

• Those affected are unable to concentrate on a single task for more than a few minutes.

What are the reasons?

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol:

• Alcohol enters the bloodstream and reaches the developing fetus through the placenta;

• The concentration of alcohol in the blood of a developing baby is higher than in the mother’s body because his body processes alcohol more slowly than a healthy adult.

• Alcohol prevents the delivery of normal amounts of oxygen and nutrition to the baby’s developing tissues and organs, including the brain.

The more a pregnant woman drinks, the greater the risk to the unborn baby. The brain, heart and blood vessels of the fetus begin to develop in the first weeks of pregnancy, before the woman has yet determined that she is about to become a mother.

Treatment of fetal alcohol syndrome

There is no specific treatment, but physical disabilities and mental deficiencies accompany the entire life of the affected person.

However, there are methods that help limit the consequences of the syndrome and prevent some of the secondary damage they can lead to.

For this purpose, the help of a teacher specially trained to work with such children, a speech therapist, a physiotherapist, a professional development specialist and a psychologist is needed.

Such procedures should start at an early age to help the child walk, talk and build vocational skills.

But for an average Bulgarian family, the services of so many specialists would be overwhelming.

Prevention

• Do not drink alcohol when you are trying to conceive.

• And if you still don’t, you should definitely stop using it as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, so you also significantly lower your risk of developing the syndrome.

Consider giving up alcohol completely during childbearing years, especially if you are sexually active and have unprotected sex;

• If you have a drinking problem, get help before you start trying to get pregnant.

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