What Is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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What Is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) describes a group of mental and physical birth defects that occur when a woman drinks alcohol while pregnant. The consequences are always tragic, resulting in facial abnormalities, growth retardation, and brain damage. The worst part is that once a child or infant is born with fetal alcohol syndrome, there is no known way to reverse that. It is a lifelong issue affecting every aspect of the child's life forever. Besides physical abnormalities the child will often have a learning disability issue associated with speech, hearing and memory. The social implications are also negative, where the child will often feel left out from social circles. It is important to remember that FAS is completely preventable, as long as abstinence is practiced during pregnancy.

It has been well publicized that women struggling with alcoholism who are pregnant or intend to get pregnant, should seek treatment before their drinking habit causes irreparable damage to their future child. In addition to FAS , described above, FAE is another consequence of drinking while pregnant.

Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE), similar to FAS, is brain damage without the physical abnormalities. It is also called Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder. If a child is born with such brain damage, their ability to learn and remember trivial things will be diminished. This means that they could have lower IQ's, and forget vital or easy concepts on a daily basis. Life becomes hard as they grow older. Socially, they may be labeled "different" due to their forgetfulness or slower brain processing activities. The first effect of this in their life will be the difficulty to associate with others, like making new friends and keeping friends.

Addiction specialists recommend alcohol addiction treatment in an inpatient rehab facility as the most effective way of treatment for these cases. Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, relapse prevention courses, private counseling and more that help the mother to understand and address the root of her problems for her substance abuse are part of the course in this type of settings.
The positive consequences of the treatment are lifelong for both mother and child if not lifesaving for at-least one of them. It is safe to say that when a pregnant women continues to drink, the result will be the presence of some form of disabilities from the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which the type and extent of it is determined by the length of exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. In another word, there is no safe way or period to drink while pregnant.

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