Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

fetal alcohol syndrome


June 2017

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

In sake of a healthy pregnancy, it is essential to avoid or completely limit alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to miscarriage or a baby being born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) – a very severe kind of disorder.


About Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it follows the bloodstream and reaches a baby via placenta. As baby’s body is not able to process alcohol, concentration of alcohol in baby’s blood becomes very high. Delivery of oxygen and nutrients becomes limited and accordingly interferes with fetal growth and development. As a result, permanent brain damage can be developed.

Baby’s blood vessels and organs start to develop in the first weeks of pregnancy. Taking alcohol is the most threatening in the first trimester. Baby can be damaged even if mother does not yet know about her pregnancy. However, this does not mean that alcohol is not going to be harmful in second and third trimesters. Alcohol is harmful anytime during pregnancy.

Baby’s facial features, organs, bones, central nervous system can be damaged or deformed as a result of alcohol consumption during gestation.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a severe condition. Although symptoms can vary from mild to severe, they can interfere with appearance and cognitive abilities anyway. Unfortunately, the damage is usually permanent.


Physically distinguishable symptoms of FAS :

  • Small head
  • Thin upper lip
  • Smooth skin between nose and lip
  • Low weight
  • Height below average
  • Deformation of fingers, limbs or joints
  • Slow growth


FAS can be reflected on intellectual and cognitive abilities and cause :

  • Hyperactivity
  • Inability to focus
  • Coordination problems
  • Poor social skills
  • Memorizing disabilities
  • Mood swings


Finally, FAS can affect health:

  • Kidney defects
  • Heart problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Vision problems


Treatment and prevention

There is no cure for fetal alcohol syndrome, however, medication can be used to neutralize some of the symptoms. For example, doctor may prescribe medication such as antidepressants to deal with stress and sadness, or stimulants to aid concentration.Specialist visits are usually helpful while learning to speak.

If parents suspect that a baby is born with fetal alcohol syndrome, they should visit a doctor immediately. FAS can gradually get worse if not diagnosed on time.

When a woman has been drinking during pregnancy it is essential to tell a doctor about it.


Fetal alcohol syndrome can be avoided by :

  • Not drinking during pregnancy
  • Not drinking while planning/trying to get pregnant


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