What is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)?
FAS is the consequence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. It is the leading cause of permanent intellectual disability in children.
The stigmata of the syndrome include neurodevelopmental disorders, abnormal facial features and growth restriction. The full blown picture of the syndrome is seen only in about 20 percent of the affected children.
Children who do not meet all the criteria of FAS are divided in to 3 groups:
The literature from the U.S shows that each year 3 infants are affected out of 1000 live births.
Alcohol is the commonest form of substance abuse prevalent all over the world. Surely, the incidence could be higher in some parts of the world,
However, the available epidemiological data is unfortunately not comprehensive for the world wide statistics.
Alcohol freely crosses the placenta and fetus does not have the enzymes to metabolize it. Consequently, on fetus the toxic effects of alcohol are much more pronounced and occur even at low doses of maternal alcohol consumption.
The metabolites of alcohol, ethanol and acetaldehyde, are toxic.
They also easily cross the placenta and impair placental functions and jeopardize fetal development.
Alcohol interferes with the normal functioning of hormones.
Maternal and fetal hormone imbalance attributable to alcohol consumption during pregnancy jeopardizes the outcome of pregnancy:
The severity of effect of fetal alcohol syndrome on fetal growth is partly related to the level, period and pattern of fetal alcohol exposure.
Though it is true that about 80 percent of the affected children do not attain full spectra of abnormalities that are associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, the neurological development of fetus is adversely affected even at low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure.
Even in absence of full blown fetal alcohol syndrome and also with low alcohol intake, it shows high incidence of neurobehavioral development disorder, intellect impairment and wide variety of congenital malformations.
More the alcohol a pregnant woman drinks, more is the harm inflicted on the fetus. However, the minimum amount of alcohol it takes to cause birth defects is not known.
Can a mother accept even minimum intellect impairment in her offspring knowing that it could have been prevented easily?
The effects of alcohol on fetal development are 100% preventable.
No alcohol during pregnancy, no fetal alcohol spectrum disorder!
Yes, it is as simple as that!
No amount of alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy and no time in pregnancy is safe to drink alcohol.
As a matter of fact, any women who might get pregnant should refrain herself from alcohol consumption – a small sacrifice to make for a healthy intelligent child!
Regretfully No, there is No cure for fetal alcohol syndrome.
Affected children are provided with professional supportive care:
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