Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome is perhaps the saddest result of alcohol consumption. Victims of this syndrome suffer a variety of congenital defects: mental retardation, coordination problems, and heart, eye, and genitourinary malformation, as well as low birth weight and slowed growth rate. Most apparent are characteristic facial abnormalities. Severe cases of fetal alcohol syndrome are rare, but subtle damage with one or two abnormalities, sometimes called “fetal alcohol effects,” is probably much more widespread. Symptoms of the syndrome may not emerge until months after birth and are apt to go undiagnosed. This disorder, a major cause of mental retardation in the United States, is preventable.

Alcohol is especially damaging in the early weeks of pregnancy, before a woman may know she’s pregnant. It crosses the placenta into the tiny body of the fetus, where its effects are grossly magnified. Both the congeners in alcoholic beverages and the associated disturbed metabolism of vitamin A and folic acid, nutrients clearly required for fetal growth and development, can interfere with embryonic development.

Relatively small amounts of alcohol may cause fetal alcohol syndrome. A safe level during pregnancy is not known: therefore, pregnant women should abstain from alcohol damage does not require chronic intake. A binge -even having several drinks at a party—at the wrong moment of pregnancy can cause serious problems. However, population studies show that babies with Neuro-developmental problems are more common among who drink more frequently during pregnancy.

Official health advisories warn women against drinking alcohol if they are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant. Labels on alcohol beverages must carry a warning for pregnant women. In 2002, 10.1% did so frequently.

Signs of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome


Characteristic Facial Features

  • Small eyes with dropping upper lids
  • Short, upturned nose
  • Flattened cheeks
  • Small jaw
  • Thin upper lip
  • Flattened groove in middle of upper lip

Central Nervous System Problems

  • Mental retardation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Delayed development of gross motor skills (rolling over, crawling, walking)
  • Delayed development of fine motor skills (grasping objects with the thumb and index finger, transferring objects from one hand to another)
  • Impaired language development
  • Memory problems, poor judgment, distractibility, impulsiveness
  • Learning problems
  • Seizures

How does alcohol get into the baby’s body?

Alcohol consumed by a pregnant woman travels through her bloodstream and across the placenta to her baby. The unborn baby’s body can metabolize the alcohol, but does so at a much slower rate than the adult body. As a result, the alcohol level in the baby’s blood is higher than in the mother’s and the alcohol remains in the baby’s blood longer.

How much alcohol does a woman have to drink to cause Fatal Alcohol Syndrome?

Women who drink frequently (more than four alcoholic beverages a day) seriously increase the likelihood that their babies will have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Binge drinking (four or more drinks per occasion) is an especially hazardous drinking pattern in terms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome risk. However, no quantity of alcohol use during pregnancy has been established to be safe. Effects of Fatal Alcohol Syndrome have been seen in children whose mothers drank only moderately or lightly during pregnancy.

How can Fetal Alcohol Syndrome be prevented ?

Unlike most birth defects, FAS s completely preventable, because it’s direct cause—maternal drinking – is a controllable behavior. Simply put, pregnant women can prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome by not consuming alcohol. No amount of alcohol use during pregnancy has been proven to be safe. For that reason, any woman who suspects she might be pregnant should stop drinking immediately. Women who are attempting to get pregnant should not drink alcohol. Because many women of childbearing age drink regularly. It’s likely that their babies will be exposed to alcohol before pregnancy is detected. It is common for a woman to be pregnant for four to six weeks before she knows she is pregnant. Alcohol can hurt a baby even during the first once to two months of pregnancy, and no type of alcoholic beverage -beer, wine, wine coolers, and liquor (whiskey, vodka tequila, gin, and rum)—is exempt.

The bottom line? Everything a woman eats or drinks affect her baby. Fetal alcohol syndrome could be completely eliminated if pregnant women did not consume alcohol.

Intervention with the offspring

It is preferable that diagnostic assessment and specific treatment planning be done by specialist in this area. The affected person will be referred to programs geared to his/her disabilities rather than their etiology. These programs include infant stimulation, therapeutic nurseries, remediation clinics, other special education programs, etc. These programs have counseling staffs to work with family and client, focusing primarily on the client’s functioning, not the etiology of his/her disabilities. This is appropriate when the mother’s drinking is not a current issue in the offspring’s life.

The alcoholism treatment professional may become involved with the affected offspring when the mother enters alcoholism treatment. Now the focus is on helping the alcoholic’s son or daughter understand what alcoholism is, how family members are affected, and how each member can be helpful to the entire family. Individual sessions may be necessary to verify this member’s compression of the situation, answer questions, and provide additional support as needed.

The following guidelines on communication with developmentally and learning disabled people are relevant to working with those with fetal alcohol effects.

Homeopathic treatment of fetal alcohol syndrome – Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat fetal alcohol syndrome but to address its underlying derangements and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several medicines are available for fetal alcohol syndrome treatment that can be selected on the basis of cause, sensation, modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person.

There are some medicines which can be helpful in dealing with habit or addiction of alcohol – Nux vomica, Arsenicum, Lachesis, Sulphuric Acid, Agaricus etc.

Reference

  1. Paul Insel, Don Ross, Kimberley McMahon, Melissa Bernstin; 2010 ; 325
  2. Marie A. Boyle, Sara Long- Personal Nutrition; 2007; 285
  3. David Cook- Psychosocial issues in the treatment of alcoholism; 113

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