Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a condition a newborn can develop when alcohol is abused during pregnancy. The condition causes growth problems, brain damage, and other irreversible defects in the baby. FAS symptoms can vary from one child to another, and therefore each case should be treated specifically.
If you suspect that your child may be suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome, talk to your physician immediately. Early diagnosis helps reduce problems like behavioral issues and learning difficulties from developing.
Fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) in newborns result from exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. Although fetal alcohol syndrome is a condition, FASDs are a broader diagnosis that includes all patients with FAS. It also encompasses other people affected by prenatal alcohol exposure but doesn't meet all requirements of FAS. There are many types of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder contrary to FAS.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no exact figure shows how common fetal alcohol syndrome is. Experts base these records on National Institutes of Health-funded community studies using physical examinations. Nonetheless, data on FAS diagnoses shows: 1
Children may experience mild symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome, but others may have more significant side effects. The side effects and symptoms differ between each child, but the defects are permanent. Possible signs and symptoms involve cognitive and intellectual disabilities, physical defects, and social problems in daily life. Below includes many of the common symptoms experienced and examined in children with FAS.
Fetal alcohol syndrome can lead to the following occurrences in affected babies:
Fetal alcohol syndrome can lead to the following developmental experiences:
Fetal alcohol syndrome can influence:
A baby’s heart, brain, and other organs begin to develop during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Drinking alcohol while pregnant puts babies at greater risk of certain complications, and drinking heavily exposed newborns to fetal alcohol syndrome.
Any amount and type of alcohol are harmful to unborn babies. There is no safe amount of alcohol that pregnant women can consume without harming the child. This also applies to women attempting to get pregnant and women who do not know they are pregnant. Alcohol exposure during any term of pregnancy puts the baby at risk for FAS and FASDs.
Alcohol enters the mother’s bloodstream and is passed to the baby through the placenta. The baby’s liver is not fully developed, so the alcohol cannot be processed. This causes the fetus to have the same or higher blood alcohol content (BAC) as the mother and for a longer time. The risks of drinking while pregnant include:
FAS comes with complications that can be managed using the available treatment approaches. Attending parent training, therapy, and pediatrician appointments will increase knowledge on how to help the child and ensure they have the resources needed to live a good life. The following complications may be observed in children with FAS:
To diagnose fetal alcohol syndrome, doctors carry out a fetal alcohol syndrome assessment. The doctors will assess the history of alcohol consumption during the pregnancy and look for the following features:
FAS can easily be avoided by not drinking any alcoholic beverages during pregnancy. In addition, when trying to get pregnant or having unprotected sex, it is recommended to avoid alcohol. Pregnancies can go unnoticed for up to six weeks, so avoiding alcohol during times of possible pregnancy is important. Damage can occur in the earliest weeks of pregnancy; therefore, women need to avoid alcohol completely.
If the child is severely affected, FAS can be diagnosed at birth. The characteristic physical features are most noticeable between eight months and eight years of age. If you suspect that your child has FAS, an intervention as early as the age of six could make a major difference in your child's quality of life.
FAS is a lifetime condition that causes permanent defects, disabilities, and disorders. According to a study, the life expectancy of those with FAS is thirty-four years. The leading causes of death include suicide (15%), nervous system disease (8%), respiratory system diseases (8%), drug or alcohol overdose (7%), and mental and behavioral disorders (4%). 2
Unfortunately, there is not a specific cure for treating FAS. Proper research and possible treatments are hindered due to a lack of information. For instance, alcohol consumption is commonly unknown during pregnancies, with only an estimated 33% of women reporting alcohol use. In addition, many children with FASDs are adopted or in foster care, so little is known about their pregnancies. 3
Nonetheless, timely interventions, including medications, nutritional interventions, and educational and behavioral therapies for the mother and child, can prevent acquired disabilities. Health practitioners will closely monitor the child with FAS to ensure that the medications prescribed are achieving the treatment goals. These treatment interventions include:
While no medicines can treat FAS directly, medicines are available to help with symptoms of the disorder, such as anxiety, inability to focus, hyperactivity, and seizures. Some of the medications may include:
Some contemporary and holistic therapies for children with FAS and FASDs include:
Each child's quality of life is highly dependent on the timely and quality of intervention provided for them. Our professional team at Genesis Recovery assures you of the best interventions for you and your child. Contact us at Genesis Recovery to learn more about how we can help your child with fetal alcohol syndrome.