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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Danger of Alcohol Addiction

A pregnant woman is in a state of vulnerable condition. At this moment, she is hugely defenseless from different variants of toxins and harmful substances. Alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs are some of the substances that may cause negative effects towards the fetus inside the mother’s womb. These substances are referred to as teratogens. These substances can make the baby sick. It can even result to delivering an abnormal baby.

Alcohol is one of the so called teratogens that can greatly affect pregnancies. There will be a very problematic outcomes when a woman who is into alcohol addiction gets pregnant. People may not be attentive of its danger and still lets a woman to take in alcoholic drinks during her pregnancy, but the effect of this would be carried by the baby for the rest of his or her life. In the United States alone, alcohol is known to be one of the primary cause of mental and physical birth defects. Though, this is only a probability, the rate is high.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a disorder that can occur to the embryo when a pregnant woman ingests alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol crosses the placental barrier and can inhibit fetal growth or weight, create distinctive facial stigmata, damage neurons and brain structures, and cause other physical, mental, or behavioral problems. The central nervous system specifically the brain is one of the parts damaged by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Developing brain cells and structures are not fully developed or malformed by prenatal alcohol exposure, often making an array of primary cognitive and functional disabilities including poor memory, attention deficits, impulsive behavior, and poor cause-effect reasoning, as well as secondary disabilities for example, mental health problems, and drug addiction.

The signs and symptoms of having fetal alcohol syndrome are low birth weight, undersized head circumference, developmental delay, organ dysfunction, facial abnormalities, including decreased eye openings, flattened cheekbones, and indistinct philtrum (an underdeveloped groove between the nose and the upper lip), epilepsy, poor coordination, poor socialization abilities, such as difficulty building and maintaining friendships and relating to groups, lack of imagination or curiosity, learning difficulties, including poor memory, inability to understand concepts such as time and money, poor language comprehension, poor problem-solving skills, behavioral problems including hyperactivity, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, stubbornness, impulsiveness, and anxiety.

The main feature of fetal alcohol syndrome is its damage on the central nervous system. Central nervous system damage can be assessed in three areas such as structural, neurological, and functional impairments. Structural impairments may include microcephaly (small head size) of two or more standard deviations below the average, or other abnormalities in brain structure. During the first trimester of pregnancy, alcohol interferes with the migration and organization of brain cells, which can create structural deficits within the brain. On the third trimester, damage can be caused to the hippocampus, which plays a role in memory, learning, emotion, and encoding visual and auditory information, all of which can create neurological and functional CNS impairments as well.

Neurological impairments are assessed whenever structural impairments are not observable or does not exist. Neurological problems are showed as either hard signs, or diagnosable disorders, such as epilepsy or other seizure disorders, or soft signs. Soft signs are broader, nonspecific neurological impairments, or symptoms, such as impaired fine motor skills, neurosensory hearing loss, poor gait, clumsiness, poor eye-hand coordination.

When structural or neurological impairments are not observed, all four diagnostic systems allow CNS damage owed to prenatal alcohol exposure to be assessed in terms of functional impairments. Functional impairments are deficits, problems, delays, or abnormalities due to prenatal alcohol exposure (rather than hereditary causes or postnatal insults) in observable and quantifiable domains related to daily functioning, often referred to as developmental disabilities.

Although there are no evidences that will tell us the amount of alcohol that will produce birth defects, ingesting alcohol no matter the amount is still very dangerous. Letting go and recovering from alcohol addiction is the important step to take once a woman wants to bear a child.

Alcohol addiction should be helped whenever a woman is pregnant because the danger of fetal alcohol syndrome is potent.

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