Facts About Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) with children adopted is a set of physical and mental birth defects that can result when a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, such as beer, wine, or mixed drinks, so does her baby. Alcohol passes through the placenta right into the developing baby. The baby may suffer lifelong damage as a result.
FAS is characterized by brain damage, facial deformities, and growth deficits. Heart, liver, and kidney defects also are common, as well as vision and hearing problems. Individuals with FAS have difficulties with learning, attention, memory, and problem solving.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. The term FASD is not intended for use as a clinical diagnosis.
Problems associated with FAS tend to intensify as children move into adulthood. These can include mental health problems, troubles with the law, and the inability to live independently.
Kids with FAS are frequently undiagnosed. This also applies to those with alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), a recently recognized category of prenatal damage that refers to children who exhibit only the behavioral and emotional problems of FAS/FAE without any signs of developmental delay or physical growth deficiencies.
Often, in kids with FAS or ARND, the behavior can appear as mere belligerence or stubbornness. They may score well on intelligence tests, but their behavioral deficits often interfere with their ability to succeed in school and relationships.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Challenges
- Babies born with FAS are frequently small, underweight, have slack muscle tone.
- Fetal Alcohol syndrome often display a set of typical facial anomalies which include: Thin upper lip, low nasal bridge, fold on inner eyelid, flat mid-face, short nose and indistinct Philtrum (The ridge between upper lip and nose is barely visible).
- Children born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome also have a permanent form of brain damage. The symptoms range, but may include mental retardation, , speech impediments, hyperactivity, heart and eye disorders, behavioral problems (Autism, aggressiveness, impaired social skills).
Other Challenges may include:
- Poor Impulse Control
- Poor Judgment
- Immature or Inappropriate Behavior
- Umbilical or diaphragmatic hernia
- Incomplete or lack of development of brain structures
- Heart murmurs, heart defects, abnormalities of large vessels
- Central nervous system damage
- Fine or gross motor problems
- Learning difficulties
- Irritability in infancy and hyperactivity in childhood
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Treatment
- The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated specific drugs for treating the symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol in babies. However, there is no treatment for life-long birth defects and retardation. Babies and children with alcohol-related damage often need developmental follow-up and, possibly, long-term treatment and care.