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When you consume alcohol, so does your baby – say experts

According to the American Pregnancy Association,  “When you consume alcohol, so does your baby. Alcohol is a teratogen. Teratogen is a substance known to be…

According to the American Pregnancy Association,  “When you consume alcohol, so does your baby. Alcohol is a teratogen. Teratogen is a substance known to be harmful to human development. Alcohol crosses the placenta to your baby. Therefore; alcohol can be harmful to your baby’s development. All drinks that contain alcohol can be harmful to your baby. There is no safe amount of alcohol to consume while you are pregnant. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the chance that a baby will be born affected by a Fatal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, also called fatal alcohol syndrome or fatal alcohol effects. Fatal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is the full spectrum of birth defects that are caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. These effects are life-long and irreversible. The good thing is that they are 100 per cent preventable.”

Even in Biblical and early Greek literature, a woman was warned not to drink wine or strong drinks after she conceived her child. Since 1973, the pattern of physical and mental defects, called FAS, has been associated with the offspring’s of chronic alcoholic mothers.

Anastasia Neberezny of the Human Nutrition and Food Management Centre of Ohio State University U.S.A in a research work said “There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe to consume during pregnancy, but the more you drink, the more you raise your baby’s chances of having problems. When you drink an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream. The alcohol circulates in the blood until it is completely broken down by the liver. It may take more than an hour for the liver to break down the alcohol in one mixed drink, glass of wine or can of beer. If you are pregnant, the alcohol in your bloodstream passes through the placenta to the baby so that when you have a drink, the baby has one equal in strength. Because of the baby’s size and its developing system, this “drink” of alcohol can be more harmful to the baby than to you.”

 The time during the pregnancy when the mother drinks affects the risk to the baby and the kinds of problems the baby might have. Drinking during the first three months (first trimester) is the most serious. Babies exposed to alcohol at this time often have small brains and physical problems, and develop severe mental retardation.

Miscarriage is the major risk in the next three months (second trimester). In the last trimester babies exposed to alcohol often develop learning problems, mental retardation, and behavioural problems.

Symptoms

Children born with FAS or FAE have one or more of the following problems health experts say.

Birth weight and growth problems: Low birth weight (less than five pounds), small head size, delayed growth ,short height as an adult, face and Mouth Deformities -flat shape of face and nose, narrow eye slits, upper lip and mouth deformities .

They also prune to physical problems like, bone, joint, or muscle problems and repeated ear infections or hearing problems

Some have genital defects like, heart defects, kidney problems while others have intelligence and Learning Problems like mental retardation (IQ below 70) ,slow learning, learning disabilities especially finding trouble reading, delays or lack of abilities in speech and language. Others are slow or unable to develop motor skills such as learning to walk and write. Behavioural Problems and Mental Illness. Short attention span or hyperactivity depression .Psychosis hallucinations and delusions, aggressive defiant behaviour and drug/ alcohol abuse.

Many children with FAS/FAE have behaviour problems in school. More than a third of children with FAS develop drug and alcohol problems by adolescence and the young adult years. As people with FAS/FAE get older, they have high rates of psychological problems. Many have anger control problems and may be violent. They are at high risk for getting into trouble with the law.

Diagnosis

A Doctor can diagnose fatal alcohol problems by:

Reviewing prenatal and birth history, giving a physical exam testing abilities to understand, communicate, move, and adapt measuring facial features.

Treatment

There is no cure for FAS or FAE. Certain problems caused by FAS or FAE can often be helped with treatment. For example, heart problems can often be helped by surgery. Plastic surgery can help correct severe face deformities.

For mental retardation and learning disabilities, special education classes in school can help. All public schools in the United States offer special classes for retarded and learning disabled students between the ages of 3 and 19.

For children and adults with behaviour problems and psychological difficulties, treating the particular problem helps. For example, seeing a mental health therapist can help children and adults deal with depression, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, aggression, or anger.