If you think going out with the girls for a few drinks before your baby is born is acceptable, think again. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) is a condition where a fetus develops brain damage due to alcohol consumed by its mother and is a very, real danger. A few drinks now, might be condemning your unborn child to a very difficult life.
Most damage occurs in the beginning of a pregnancy, when things are beginning to develop. During weeks six to nine, a baby develops facial features and crucial organs. Professor Neil McIntosh, an Edinburgh-based Neonatologist, says there is scientific evidence that shows mothers who drink during this three-week window are more likely to have babies with the facial deformities associated with FASD. So when is okay to drink during pregnancy? Never.
How Can We Identify This Global Problem?
It is believed that the dangers of imbibing while pregnant were known as far back as the ancient Greeks, though FASD wasn’t officially diagnosed until 1973. Since then, the syndrome has continued to be a problem in countries around the world. It is estimated that 1 in 500 babies born in the United States will be affected with this condition. Statistics vary by race with the highest rates in the US occurring among Native Americans. Canadian Aboriginals also have a high occurrence, followed by South Africans and Russians.
Behavioral And Physical Characteristics of FASD
There are several characteristics, both physical and behavioral, that are often shared by those affected by FASD. Physically, the shape of the head is often smoother, eyes are smaller than normal, the ridge between the nose and lip is under developed, and the upper lip is thinner than usual. Deformity of the limbs, low weight, hearing, kidney, and heart difficulties can also result.
Mentally, a host of problems can result from drinking with an unborn human inside of you. In infants and young children, these range from lack of focus, developmental delays, trouble understanding cause and effect, and problems with boundaries.
But what happens when a child with FASD grows to adulthood? Oftentimes, life is hard for them. A condition such as this, involving the brain, cannot be outgrown. A mother drinking alcohol before her child is born has scarred that child for life. 90% of adults with FASD have mental health issues, and 80% find it difficult to keep a job. They often lack impulse control, have a “short fuse,” and cannot understand concepts such as time or money. Short-term memory issues can also come into play.
Society is not equipped to handle those who may look normal, but don’t function like average adults. Many struggling with FASD feel like they are forever children, stuck in a harsh adult world. Next time you reach for a bottle of wine or head out for an evening of cocktails, think about what you’re doing. The price of your indulgences now may well be your unborn child’s lifelong health.
Contact us at Alcoholtreatment.net to learn more.