Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

19:45 31st May 2016 | Alcohol & Pregnancy

FASD Pregnancy Baby Deformation Defects Poor Coordination Behavioural Problems Alcohol Consumption Physical Examination Regular Routine

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is part of a group of conditions called Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) which can occur when a woman consumes alcohol during pregnancy. FAS is the most severe of these conditions and can result in deformation of the baby, low body weight, visual and hearing defects, poor coordination, learning difficulties and behavioural problems.

Essentially alcohol passes across the placenta from the mother to the developing foetus, which is unable to process it. Alcohol can prevent nutrients and oxygen from reaching the vital organs of the foetus and this may cause irreparable and often permanent damage. The risk of FAS depends on the amount, frequency and the period of the alcohol consumption. Consumption of alcohol at any time during pregnancy is harmful but studies show that it is most harmful during the first three months of pregnancy. If a woman knows she took alcohol during the first few weeks of her pregnancy when she is unaware of her condition, she is advised to consult her doctor as soon as possible.

Also if you think your child has FAS, you should speak to your doctor immediately. A physical examination of your baby may reveal a heart murmur or other heart problems. As the baby matures, there may be some other physical and behavioural signs that may confirm the diagnosis. FAS is incurable and treatment is focused towards alleviating the symptoms. This can include speech therapy to teach the child to speak, special schooling, and appropriate counselling for the child and the mother. Children with FAS benefit from a stable loving home with a regular routine, simple rules to follow and rewards for positive behaviour.

It is important to be aware that consumption of alcohol during pregnancy may have serious consequences on your baby. If you have a drinking problem and want to become pregnant, seek professional help before taking any steps in this direction. FAS is a worldwide problem. It is estimated to affect between two to five per cent of people in the United States and Western Europe. In South Africa, one million people are affected by FAS and the incidence in the rest of Africa is estimated to be extremely high. Do not drink alcohol if you are pregnant and if you have a friend who does, urge her to stop immediately.

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