Understanding Birth Defects
 

Birth Defect: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

This birth defect manifests itself in a cluster of different but related problems due to the exposure to alcohol during fetal development. The cluster of problems may be referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a birth defect that is the result of maternal drinking of alcoholic beverages during the pregnancy. It is a preventable birth defect in that pregnant women who avoid consuming alcohol can prevent this particular birth defect from occurring.

 
All fetuses of pregnant women who drink alcohol while pregnant are at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

The effects of FAS are irreversible and can include mental and behavioral problems. There are as many as 40,000 babies born each year in the United States who are diagnosed with FAS.

Symptoms of FAS:

This birth defect manifests itself in a cluster of different but related problems due to the exposure to alcohol during fetal development. The cluster of problems may be referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a leading cause of mental retardation and yet it is preventable and to this day is still ranking the most prevalent cause of mental retardation - a truly dismaying statement.

Symptoms:

Small eyes, very thin upper lip and a short turned up nose

Heart defects

Deformity of joints, limbs and fingers

Delayed physical growth before birth and after birth

Alcohol Related Birth Defects

The special diet will prevent the mental retardation. A woman who herself had PKU and becomes pregnant is at risk for another form of the condition called "maternal PKU". She will need to follow the PKU diet during pregnancy, otherwise the phenylalanine levels can become dangerously high for her fetus. Individuals are recommended to follow the PKU diet for life. Babies born to mothers with PKU may not inherit the defect, they may however have complications at birth.

Vision difficulties

Hearing difficulties

Small head circumference

Small brain size (microcephaly)

Mental retardation

Delayed development

Short attention span

Hyperactivity

Poor impulse control

Extreme nervousness and anxiety

Physicians may use other terms to describe the symptoms of FAS such as: Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) which refers to the mental and behaviorl impairments experienced as a result of exposure to alcohol during fetal development and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBDs) which refer to the physical defects that occur as a result of FAS.

What causes FAS?

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it enters her bloodstream, crosses over through the placenta into the baby's bloodstream. The unborn baby has a much slower metabolism than its mom and thus the alcohol concentrations are higher.

The alcohol will impair the optimal nutrition for the baby's developing tissues and organs and can even damage brain cells. The risk increases the more alcohol the mom consumes.

Impairment to the developing baby includes facial features, organs including the heart, bones, the central nervous system and the brain. The most damage can be done during the first trimester when some women may not even know that they are pregnant.

Brain damage can be done at any stage of pregnancy.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to birth defects and it can cause miscarriage. Women who can conceive, suspect they may be pregnant or are pregnant should not consume any alcohol. The more alcohol consumed the higher the risk for birth defects.

Better Your Health

Types of Birth Defects Explained
▫  Birth Defect-- Cerebral Palsy
▫  Birth Defect--Cleft Lip-Palate
▫  Birth Defect--Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
▫  Birth Defect--Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
▫  Birth Defect--Phenylketonuria
▫  Birth Defect--Spina Bifida
▫  Birth Defects and the Fight to Prevent Them
▫  Exploring Common Birth Defects
▫  Fight Birth Defects With Good Nutrition
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