Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a collection of psychological and physical behavioral issues from birth caused by alcohol. Even though these can last for a lifetime, it is possible to prevent them. This is the most common known reason for mental retardation and other baby defects. Prenatal exposure to alcohol doesn’t necessarily need to cause FAS, even though it is still unknown which is the safe amount of alcohol to be consumed. Most babies who have been exposed to alcohol prenatally aren’t born with characteristic physical abnormalities in the face but they still suffer from mental and other very significant damages such as ARND (Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder) and ARBD (Alcohol Related Brain Damage).

FAS, ARND and ARBD are causing the mortality rate of newborn to be higher than Down’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and sudden death syndromes together – it is obviously a significant issue.

Consequences of alcohol consummation during pregnancy

The biggest degree of damage which can be brought to the newborn baby as a direct result of alcohol consummation is still done as FAS. According to world reputable research centers for mental health alcohol and drug abuse, following issues may occur:

  • Narrow, tiny eyes
  • Issues with sleeping
  • Issues with audio and visual perception
  • Bent spine and pelvis dislocation
  • Genital malformations
  • Smaller head
  • Retarded development or intellectual inferiority
  • Heart related issues
  • … and many more

Besides these physical difficulties, the child may have a hard time in school and other educational facilities, which is caused by lack of attention mostly. The child will also find it difficult to mingle with other children and to control the behavior.

There isn’t a safe amount of alcohol one might consume during pregnancy – even the smallest amount can cause severe complications with an unborn baby. During nursery alcohol makes its way into the baby’s organism. Large amounts of alcohol can also have a significant influence on how much milk is the mother able to provide to the baby.

Other consequences of alcohol consummation

A significant reduction of the baby’s bodyweight is expected with alcohol intake of about 30 grams per day. If you get over the 60 grams per day limit, you’re putting yourself in risk of spontaneous abortion as well. Daily intake of more than 2 g of alcohol per kilogram of body weight will lead towards severe disturbances for baby’s growth as well as damages done to the skull, face and spiritual disturbances. With severe pregnancy alcoholic issues, anomalies are present in more than 60% of pregnant women.

Children with alcoholic embryo disorders will stay small in height, the weight and overall volume of the head will be reduced below the bottom line for their age. Severe issues with motoric function development are common, as well as typical appearance with narrow eye lines, changes to the lip structure as well as all kinds of anomalies in the area of face and brain. Heart, skeletal and kidney anomalies are also fairly common, though they don’t appear as frequently.

All of these changes can appear in several different stages. It’s presumed that secondary factors such as temporary hypoglycemia during pregnancy, lack of vitamins, lack of zinc and methanol all play a significant role in initiation and degree of exposure to risk of specific consequences.

Somewhat less significant damages done due to alcohol consummation during pregnancy are labeled as alcohol caused effects. These are mostly obvious in the central nervous system, but are much more difficult to be precisely diagnosed. With these alcoholic effects one needs to be aware of from the point when alcohol was consumed. Most of the affected children will show significantly reduced brain functionality in terms of ability to learn, maintain focus etc. During the school age children will show difficulties with reading and calculus, as well as keeping attention. Logical and abstract thoughts will be greatly affected by this. Behavior of children with these effects is commonly dictated by hyperactivity and aggression.


The central nervous system is made out of the brain and the spinal cord. Children who are exposed to alcohol while they are still in their mother’s womb will show specific problems which can be distributed in tri segments: face shape and lines, body growth and central nervous system.

The effects of this syndrome may be severe or mild and can definitely affect every individual child in another way. Every alcoholic beverage increases the chances of a baby to get an abnormality on the face for at least 25%, with a 12% higher probability for it to be born with a head smaller than average. Also, there is a 16% chance for the birth weight to be lesser than normal.

Many researches were done on this subject, with all of them proving that alcohol must be eliminated from list of your consumables during the pregnancy and nursing periods. You’ll find some reports about infrequent alcohol consummation during pregnancy to show no bad symptoms to the baby. Even though this may be true, it’s more of a luck factor as not all babies will have the same amount of tolerance towards alcohol concentration. It’s best for you to completely avoid alcoholic beverages during pregnancy, as it’s simply not worth the risk.

How and when to ask for medical assistance

Consequences made by alcohol consummation during pregnancy are permanent, so it’s important to prevent this from happening in the first place. If you are pregnant and you’re having difficulties with stopping your alcohol addiction, ask for professional help as soon as possible.

Early diagnosis and discovery of this issue can help you reduce the risk of permanent problems affecting your new child, so make sure to let your doctor know you consumed alcoholic beverages during your pregnancy. Don’t wait until it’s too late and then ask for help.

If you adopted your child or you’re providing care service for a child, you might not know whether or not the biological mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy so you probably won’t even think about the possibility of this problem. However, if your adopted child is showing issues with studying and behaving, talk to the child’s doctor so that you may identify what may be causing the issues.

About the author

Rani Vyas

Rani Vyas

I'm a Medical Consultant Doctor with a keen interest in Medical bioinformatics and genuinely intriguing way of presenting boring medical knowledge in an enchanting and eye catching way.

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