Essay on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a pattern of mental, physical, and behavioral defects that may develop in the unborn child when its mother drinks during pregnancy. These defects occur primarily during the first trimester when the teratogenic effects of the alcohol have the greatest effect on the developing organs. The symptoms associated with FAS have been observed for many centuries, but it was not until 1968 that Lemoine and his associates formally described these symptoms in the scientific literature, and again in 1973 when Jones and associates designated a specific pattern of altered growth and dysmorphogenesis as the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (Rostand, p. 302). The set of abnormalities characterized by Jones
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333). Clearly the incidence of this syndrome could be greatly reduced, and possibly prevented, through education on the topic. This paper will present the metabolic basis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the pathogenic basis for brain and facial anomalies associated with FAS, and the effects of maternal alcohol consumption on the immune system. Characteristics of diagnosing FAS will follow the discussion of those factors causing the symptoms of this disease.

As stated earlier, alcohol has its greatest effect on the developing embryo during the first trimester of pregnancy with its teratogenic effect causing mental retardation as well as characteristic craniofacial abnormalities that are characteristic of the disease. It has also been demonstrated with experimental animal models that there is a clear "dose-response" effect between the amount of alcohol consumed by the mother and the risk that is associated with developing FAS symptoms (Walpole, p. 875). It has been proposed by Walpole and associates that there are various degrees to which the fetus An be effected. Walpole uses the term "fetal alcohol syndrome" to refer to serious effects due to heavy maternal drinking and "fetal alcohol effect" to refer to those effects thought to occur with lower maternal alcohol intake (Walpole, p. 875). Regardless of the degree to which

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