Doctors have been warning pregnant women for decades about the dangers that drinking alcohol has on an unborn baby. Even with the knowledge and warnings, many women still choose to drink while pregnant, putting their child in danger for birth defects and developmental delays known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Causes of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) refers to growth, mental, and physical problems that may occur in a baby when a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. A developing baby gets its nourishment through its mother’s placenta. When a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol passes through the placenta to the baby’s bloodstream, raising the baby’s blood alcohol level and keeping it elevated long after its mother has sobered up. Alcohol in an unborn baby’s bloodstream can cause a delay in its development, which can lead to mental retardation, physical disabilities, and even death.
Long-Term Results of FAS
Children who are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome face a host of problems. They may suffer from physical disabilities, such as vision and hearing difficulties. Some children with FAS are born with mental retardation. Most of the children are born with learning difficulties and may have trouble with problem solving, memory problems, and behavior issues. As these children grow up, they are more likely to have problems with depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol abuse as a direct result of their FAS.
Preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
According to the National Institute on Health (NIH), Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the leading cause of mental retardation in the Western World. However, it is also completely preventable. The best way to battle this syndrome is to educate people about the dangers of drinking while pregnant. It is important that women be informed and screened for alcohol abuse, and doctors and health care providers should be encouraged to talk to their patients about the dangers of drinking while pregnant.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is too devastating to allow it to continue to occur. Women who think they might be pregnant and are struggling with alcohol abuse or drug addiction should get help as soon as possible, to provide their child with the best chance at a healthy development.