When you first find out you are pregnant, many thoughts and emotions are running through your head. You’re likely scared, happy, worried, and excited at the same time. As you process your pregnancy, you might realize you’ve had alcohol since the baby was conceived, this may lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Perhaps you even realize you’ve got a drinking problem and need to stop, but aren’t sure if you can. It’s possible you just found out prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading cause of preventable birth defects and abnormalities in the United States of America.
You’ll start wondering if your baby will be deformed or diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
It’s possible this is the first time you’ve ever really thought about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and you have questions like:
“What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?”
“What are Fetal Alcohol Syndrome symptoms?”
“Can I stop it from happening?”
If you are pregnant and trying to quit drinking, give us a call at 405-583-4390. Our professionals have the knowledge and resources to help you on this journey.
Understanding Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome results from exposure to alcohol during pregnancy, which impacts a baby’s development. Doctors consider Fetal Alcohol Syndrome the most severe of all Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). The most serious effects occur in the brain and Central Nervous System; resulting in damage to brain function.
When babies are in the womb, their only job is to take in all the nutrients provided to them. Since the mother provides oxygen, nutrition, and basically all life support through the umbilical cord, the baby also absorbs any alcohol in your system. It is natural to question this process. You might ask “why can’t the baby break down alcohol like the mother can? Isn’t that what the liver is for?”
And you would be correct.
The job of the liver is to filter blood. But, since the baby is still growing, they do not have a fully formed liver. Until they develop their liver, the baby will not have the enzymes required to break down alcohol or other substances. The liver enzymes appear later in life. Essentially, this means the baby fills up with alcohol and cannot break it down.
Risk Factors for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Alcohol can interrupt fetal development at any stage, from the early days of pregnancy to labor. With every drink you have during pregnancy, the chance of the baby having a disorder increases. Therefore, it is best to avoid all alcohol when you are pregnant.
Some common risk factors your healthcare provider is looking for are: Are you consuming five or more drinks more than twice a week? Do you drink every day or every weekend? Has your alcohol consumption increased or decreased since becoming pregnant?
After looking at alcohol consumption, they also look for:
- High-stress levels
- A lack of social connections
- Living in a home where excessive drinking is encouraged
- Lack of access to prenatal care.
- Nutritional habits
- Body Mass Index
- History of Smoking
If you are concered about the risk factors with FAS, then call us today. Talk to our specialists about what you need to ensure the saftey of you and your child.
Symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome symptoms include a variety of physical abnormalities. Fingers of different sizes are possible. Part of a limb may be missing or deformed. The problems created by FAS will vary from one child to the next, as well as the severity. Keep in mind, none of these defects can be reversed, and some of them won’t appear until later in childhood.
We can break symptoms into three specific categories: developmental issues, thinking-related processes (also called cognitive function), and behavioral issues.
Physical symptoms are often the first signs that let doctors know if the child has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The more alcohol the child was exposed to during pregnancy, the more exaggerated the physical symptoms will be. They include:
- Height and weight in lower 10% for their age
- Smaller eyes
- A thin upper lip
- The area between nose and lip is smooth
- Heart defects
- Problems with kidneys and bones.
- Vision difficulties
- Hearing problems
- Small head circumference
- Deformities at joints, limbs, and fingers
- Slow physical growth during pregnancy and after birth
One of the most well-known features of FAS is brain damage. The phrase “brain damage” is scary and unnerving. Just remember, not all brain damage is the same, and not all brain damage makes a person incapable of living a full life. However, the following problems are typical:
- Being jittery or hyperactive
- Poor memory
- Trouble with attention
- Trouble processing information
- Rapid mood swings
- Poor coordination or lack of balance
- Poor decision making
- Difficulty understanding consequences
- Learning disorders or delayed development
It is possible for doctors and researchers to find changes in different sections of the brain using prenatal imaging. They can see which areas are underdeveloped and get an idea of which parts of the body will most likely be affected. However, this type of testing is reserved for research studies only.
Social and Behavioral Problems
Along with the mental and physical problems with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in adults and children, there are also social and behavioral issues to be aware of:
- Difficulty in school
- Poor concept of time
- Problems staying on task
- Memory Issues
- Difficulty understanding and following directions
- Difficulty planning or working toward a goal
- Poor social skills
- Difficulty communicating
- Trouble getting along with others
- Difficulty controlling emotions
- Being impulsive
- Trouble switching from one task to another
Are you suffering from the symptoms of FAS? Do you know someone that is? No matter the situation, call us today. Our experts will help you make sure the mother and child are healthy and safe.
Living with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Caring for a child with fetal alcohol syndrome takes a lot of patience and awareness. While no Fetal Alcohol Syndrome treatment exists at this time, there are various learning and behavioral interventions to help those with FAS and their families.
Many times, the best treatment comes from inside the home. In an ideal world, your child will have a diagnosis before the age of six. Getting a diagnosis this early will help you find support. Also, therapy services to increase your child’s chance of a successful, independent life. If you struggle financially, there are plenty of government assistance programs to help families whose children have disabilities.
The most important thing you can do is to provide a loving, nurturing, and stable home.
Also know that there are family support groups to help parents learn how to care for a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Additionally, many schools provide “school-based interventions,” which is a scary-sounding way of describing special teaching methods to help create a consistent routine. These methods also allow for more one-on-one time or exploration of a certain topic the class is learning.
Treatment For Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Unfortunately, no treatment can cure FAS. However, healthcare providers have plenty of ways to treat the symptoms. Occasionally, doctors prescribe medications such as antidepressants or antianxiety drugs. However, there is a category of medication called neuroleptics to help with aggression, or stimulants to help treat a lack of focus or hyperactivity.
It is also important to take nutritional supplements made specifically for pregnant women before, during, and after the pregnancy.
Most of the time, your healthcare provider won’t know if the baby has FAS until they are born. There are no blood tests, genetic tests, or diagnostic tests of any kind at this time. However, in severe cases, your healthcare provider may spot fetal alcohol syndrome during an ultrasound. However, remember that our professionals are standing by. They are ready to take your call. Let us help you, and an innocent life today.
When to Get Help
There is no known level of safe consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. If you drink during pregnancy, then your baby is at risk of an FASD.
In conclusion, the sooner your doctor knows you drank alcohol during your pregnancy, the sooner they can prepare for possible complications. While it’s true that your doctor cannot reverse any defects found during pregnancy from FAS, it will better prepare the medical staff if there is a complication during labor.
Sometimes it is scary to reveal these hard truths to your doctor. However, it is essential to speak up, ask questions, and voice your concern.
Your doctor wants to know about anything that could affect you or the baby. Whether your doctor answers all your questions in one visit or asks you to go back, remember two things. One, you did the hard thing! You told your doctor a horrifying personal fact. Talking about your fears is a tremendous step, and will likely make you feel better all on its own. Two, your doctor is now aware and can go ahead with this knowledge. Your pre- and post-natal plan might change to give you the best chance of a healthy delivery and a healthy baby.
Remember, your doctor went to school and studied hard for many years to prepare for situations such as yours. Your OBGYN is on this 9-month trip with you. They need a heads-up on any activity that may change your pregnancy or birth plan, so you are both prepared for anything that may happen.
Finally, the only way to prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is to avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome cannot be reversed once it has happened. If you have a drinking problem and are trying to get pregnant, please seek help from a qualified medical professional. If you are struggling to quit drinking, then do not wait until you feel overwhelmed to get help. Call us for the advice and resources for fetal alcohol syndrome statistics you need to move forward. Do not let the innocent suffer. Let us help you save the life of a child. Help yourself or an expecting mother today. Call us now.
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