Essay on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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What can happen to a fetus when a pregnant women drinks heavily during her pregnancy?

It can lead to permanent, irreversible and incurable effects that will bring a lifetime of pain for

both the child and the family. These permanent and unchangeable effects arise from a fetus

attaining fetal alcohol syndrome from its mother. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a pattern of

malformations and disabilities resulting from a pregnant woman drinking heavily during her

pregnancy. FAS is unique in that effects on the children are directly linked to maternal drinking

habits. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is currently the leading cause of mental retardation in the United

States. A baby with FAS can suffer from mental retardation, central
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“FAS is not necessarily the result of only

full-blown alcoholism but rather it can result from drinking any amount of alcohol in excess of the

level to detoxify it thus placing the fetus at risk” (Caleekal). A mother’s nutritional status and

physical well-being might also play roles of varying significance in determining whether an infant

is affected, and to what degree, by the prenatal exposure to alcohol (Berhow 364). The most

common effects seen is an increase in miscarriages. Babies can also be born at a low birth weight,

birth length, and with a small heads resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure. There are many

different factors that can produce birth defects from FAS. Agent (alcohol, crack, heroin) Dosage

(how much is used), Timing of Exposure (when is it used?), individual factors of mother and

child, genetic factors, nutritional factors, metabolic factors are what birth defects are dependent

on (Berhow 364).

FAS is characterized by three symptoms which affect different areas. The three areas

affected are; prenatal and/or postnatal growth retardation, Central Nervous System (CNS) and

head and facial abnormalities (Wynbrandt 208). With prenatal and postnatal growth retardation,

infants are born weighing less the average newborn and are shorter in length. The central nervous

system is composed of the brain and spinal cord. The nervous system develops in

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