Drinking While Pregnant – Effects On Baby
We all know how bad drinking while pregnant is. But, did you know that drinking while pregnant – effects on baby, are practically irreversible?
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
As the name suggests, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), is caused by consuming alcohol while pregnant. It causes a number of behavioral as well as physical defects which last throughout your child’s life. Some of these include Poor growth rate, Facial Abnormalities and even Mental Retardation.
In the US alone, between 5000 and 12000 babies are effected each year and there is a constant rise in that number. Across the World the number is currently at 40000 births per year. It is also the most common preventable cause of birth defects due to which a number of awareness campaigns have been started.
Alcohol passes very easily from the placenta to the fetus and the reaction on the fetus is totally different as compared to adults. As there is no safe time during your pregnancy to consume alcohol, doctors advise against it. Drinking while pregnant – effects on baby can be highly dangerous!
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has to be confirmed by a doctor and will be done after a number of tests are conducted, as well as confirmation from the mother that she drank during her pregnancy. Some of the symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Poor or slow growth
- Small eyes or head
- Absent Philtrum (the groove between the nose and upper lip) and thin upper lip
- Flattened facial features
- Droopy eyelids
- Learning disabilities
- Lack of attention span and hyper-activeness
- Trouble controlling emotions which can lead to problems with the law later in life
- Mental Retardation and Seizures or Fits
- Poor Coordination and problems with hearing and vision
- Heart and Liver problems
- Difficulties with responsibilities
When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol the fetus takes a lot longer to process it. This causes a higher blood alcohol level for a longer time. This in turn prevents oxygen from reaching the baby’s brain. The lack of oxygen causes all the mental and physical defects seen in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
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Prevention is the best cure and avoiding drinking during pregnancy is the best possible route.
If your child has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome your doctor will run a series of tests which will include both psychological and physical tests. There is no direct treatment for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and there are only control measures that can be taken.
Some of these require counselling for both the parents as well as the child. Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome require a stable loving home and for this counselling is required. This is best detected during preschool so that the child and parents can start their counselling and treatment for the best results.
Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome could also benefit from other therapies like speech therapy and Social Interaction Skills classes. Along with this the psychiatrist may prescribe medication to treat Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, Sleep Disorder and Aggression.
Advice for Mothers-in-the-Making
1. As soon as you suspect you are pregnant or find out that you are pregnant, don’t drink.
2. If you are under pressure from colleagues or friends choose a safe alternative like mock-tails or fruit juices.
3. Should you find yourself struggling with alcoholism, seek help at the earliest to protect your baby, as well as your own health.
4. If your child has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, join a support group to help you go through the ups and downs of looking after a child with the same.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome awareness programs were introduced to bring awareness about the ill effects of drinking while pregnant – effects on baby; and also to educate people about the effects of alcohol on a fetus. Due to the rising number of cases seen across the world we need to spread awareness of this to prevent our future generations from suffering. Let us all work towards growing a healthier next generation.
Take a look at this video to know first-hand about what it takes to look after a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: