What Is FASD?
FASD stands for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and describes an umbrella of permanent birth defects. This disorder, Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARND), Static Encephalopathy (alcohol exposed) (SE) or Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD) are all names for disorders which result when a pregnant woman consumes alcohol. We would like to believe that all women of child bearing ages are aware of the damaging effects of alcohol on the developing fetus, refraining from alcohol intake during pregnancy. Unfortunately, even though we live is a sophisticated society, still today there are more than ten percent of children who have been exposed to high levels of alcohol while in utero.
Is occasional alcohol consumption harmful for the developing fetus?
Seems like there should be some type of safe zone, one which will allow pregnant women to consume alcohol without causing harm of their baby. A little alcohol should not hurt my baby, right? Well it is interesting to know that it only takes a very little amount of alcohol intake to cause serious harm on the developing fetus. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention alcohol is toxic in all concentrations. In fact recent research it has even been proven that there is a correlation between a single exposure to high levels of alcohol in pregnant women and significant brain damage to their unborn child. As a result, the developing fetus who is exposed to alcohol will suffer with varying degrees of effects. This means that their child may be born with mild learning disabilities, or they may be born with major problems such as impaired physical, mental and intellectual functioning.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum (FASD) physical abnormalities
- low birth weight and height
- cleft palate
- eye problems
- facial abnormalities
- heart & kidney defects
- hip deformities
- speech deformities
- spine abnormalities
Listed above are only a few birth defects in babies born with FAS. There are many others and further testing must be done to confirm the actual diagnosis.
Pregnant women must be made aware that babies in utero are nourished by their placenta. Nutrients as well as some drugs are able to cross the placental membrane, and unfortunately alcohol is one of the drugs that is able to do so. In the past it has been emphasized that the unborn fetus is subject to harm primarily during the mother’s first trimester. As a result, many pregnant women may feel that is safe for their fetus if they consume alcohol after their first three months of pregnancy. Yes, it is true that the developing fetus is more vulnerable during the first three months of their uterine life. However, pregnant women should not develop a false sense of security behind this because the developing fetus is an ongoing process. Therefore it is susceptible to harm at any time during the pregnancy.
All pregnant women should seek medical attention and guidance during their pregnancy. There is so much information available now. Their is so much information available. The internet has vast amount of information, health fairs are available as well as doctor’s offices providing brochures, etc. Therefore, no pregnancy should ever result in a baby born with Fetal-Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), especially when this birth defect is one that mothers have control over and can prevent. If you are pregnant and you have a problem with alcohol please reach out for help. In Nashville, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for Developmental Center for Child Development provides services for pregnant women, before and after pregnancy. Your unborn child needs you to always do the right thing. And the first right thing you should do is to protect your unborn child. Please don’t harm your developing child!