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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Danger of Alcohol Addiction

A state of a very vulnerable condition is where a pregnant woman sits. At this moment, she is hugely defenseless from different classes of toxins and harmful substances. Some of the different substances that might negatively affect the fetus inside the mother’s womb are alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. These substances are referred to as teratogens. These substances can make the baby sick. An abnormal baby can even be a result of taking in these substances.

Alcohol is one teratogen that could greatly affect the woman’s pregnancy. When a woman is into alcohol addiction, this will be a very problematic case when she is pregnant. People may not be sensitive of its harm and still allows a woman to take in alcoholic drinks during her pregnancy, but the effect of this would be carried by the baby for the rest of his or her life. In the United States alone, alcohol is known to be one of the primary cause of mental and physical birth defects. Though, this is only a probability, the rate is high.

Whenever a woman ingests alcohol during pregnancy, a disorder called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can occur on her embryo. Alcohol crosses the placental barrier and can inhibit fetal growth or weight, make distinctive facial stigmata, harm neurons and brain structures, and cause other physical, mental, or behavioral problems. The central nervous system specifically the brain is one of the parts damaged by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Developing brain cells and structures are not fully developed or malformed by prenatal alcohol exposure, often making an array of primary cognitive and functional disabilities including poor memory, attention deficits, impulsive behavior, and poor cause-effect reasoning, as well as secondary disabilities for example, mental health problems, and drug addiction.

The signs and symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome are low birth weight, undersized head circumference, developmental delay, organ dysfunction, facial abnormalities, including decreased eye openings, flattened cheekbones, and indistinct philtrum (an underdeveloped groove between the nose and the upper lip), epilepsy, poor coordination, poor socialization abilities, such as difficulty building and maintaining friendships and relating to groups, lack of imagination or curiosity, learning difficulties, including poor memory, inability to understand concepts such as time and money, poor language comprehension, poor problem-solving skills, behavioral problems including hyperactivity, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, stubbornness, impulsiveness, and anxiety.

As said earlier, damage of the central nervous system is the main feature of fetal alcohol syndrome. Central nervous system damage can be assessed in three factors such as structural, neurological, and functional impairments. Structural impairments may include microcephaly (small head size) of two or more normal deviations below the average, or other abnormalities in brain structure. On the first trimester of pregnancy, alcohol interferes with the migration and organization of brain cells, which can make structural deformities within the brain. On the third trimester, damage can be caused to the hippocampus, which plays a role in memory, learning, emotion, and encoding visual and auditory information, all of which can make neurological and functional CNS impairments as well.

When structural impairments are not observable or do not exist, neurological impairments are assessed. Neurological problems are showed as either hard signs, or diagnosable disorders, such as epilepsy or other seizure disorders, or soft signs. Soft signs are broader, nonspecific neurological impairments, or symptoms, such as impaired fine motor skills, neurosensory hearing loss, poor gait, clumsiness, poor eye-hand coordination.

When structural or neurological impairments are not shown, all four diagnostic systems allow CNS damage owing to prenatal alcohol exposure to be assessed in terms of functional impairments. Functional impairments are deficits, problems, delays, or abnormalities due to prenatal alcohol exposure (rather than hereditary causes or postnatal insults) in visible and assessable domains related to daily functioning, often referred to as developmental disabilities.

There has been no proof on the amount of alcohol that can produce birth defects. Despite that fact, it still dangerous to take any amounts of alcohol. It is very important that before a women considers herself to become a mother, she must let go of her alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addiction is very dangerous specially on women who are pregnant; the danger of fetal alcohol syndrome to occur is present.

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