Reducing The Risks Of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
By Tiffney Yeager
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a pattern of physical and mental problems that can occur when a mother is exposed
to alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol passes easily from the mother to her unborn child. Because an unborn
child is going through such rapid development, alcohol can have profound effects on the unborn child.
Although larger amounts of alcohol seem to lead to more physical and developmental problems for an unborn
child, even small amounts of alcohol may pose a risk. Also, drinking alcohol during the earlier stages of
a pregnancy (particularly the first three months) may to lead to more problems for the fetus since many of
the major organs begin developing in the first three months following conception. Unfortunately, women
often do not find out they are pregnant until weeks after conception. In some cases, a woman may be pregnant
for months before she realizes she is carrying a child. This can be particularly true for women who have
unpredictable menstrual cycles, who are overweight, or who experience few symptoms of pregnancy. One of the
unfortunate ramifications of this is that a mother may consume large amounts of alcohol over an extended
period of time before she knows she is pregnant.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can cause a variety of specific problems, including slow growth in the womb, problems
with coordination and muscle tone, heart defects, speech problems, mental retardation and even miscarriage or
infant death. Many babies born to mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy will have a pattern of physical
abnormalities, including a small head, narrow eyes and changes in the jaw and lip development. Fetal Alcohol
Syndrome affects both how a child looks and how they ultimately function in their world.
If you are pregnant, or hoping to become pregnant, avoid consuming alcohol. No amount of alcohol has been
proven to be safe during pregnancy and abstinence during pregnancy is the safest course of action. If you
find out that you are pregnant and realize that you have been drinking during the early stages of pregnancy,
share this information with your physician. Frequently women who have an unexpected pregnancy realize that
they have consumed alcohol after conception. It is helpful for your physician to have this information so
that he or she can plan the best course of action. Fortunately, for many women, alcohol use early in pregnancy
does not appear to lead to any long term damage. This is particularly true if the alcohol use was infrequent
and in smaller amounts.
If you find that you cannot stop drinking during pregnancy, contact your physician or an alcohol rehab center
to learn more about help that may be available to you and your unborn child. If you struggle to avoid alcohol
and plan or become pregnant, or are already pregnant, perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can give both
yourself and your unborn child is a mother free of alcohol. Many alcohol rehab centers can work with pregnant
women and their physicians to provide treatment that is safe and supportive.
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