Fetal alcohol syndrone Essays and Papers

This essay has a total of 2472 words and 9 pages.

fetal alcohol syndrone

Fetal Alchohol Syndrome
By: Janet Turnere

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome By: Saje102 E-mail: [email protected] m Many pregnant women are
not aware of the complications that are involved with pregnancy. The greater majority of
young women see pregnancy as a way of bringing a life into the world but do not use
precaution in their dietary habits to prevent the destruction or inhibition of such a
life. Most pregnant women continue on their drinking and drug abuse binge right throughout
their pregnancy. They do not think ahead to the inexplicable damage that it could do to
their fetus. What they do not know is that when a woman drinks while pregnant it could do
damage, and pose problems not only to herself, but to the fetus that she is carrying. The
problem? FAS, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. According to many physicians it is the leading cause
of birth defects and developmental disabilities in the United States today. Douglas A.
Milligan states that, "FAS is the single greatest cause of mental retardation in the U.S.
today". ( Seachrist, p. 314) Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was first named and treated and found
in the late 1960's. This condition results from the toxic effect of alcohol and its
chemical factors on the developing fetus and its brain. The alcohol enters the bloodstream
though the placenta and then the damage begins to occur. FAS consists of a characteristic
pattern of abnormalities resulting from the exposure that the fetus has had with alcohol
during early development. There have been many reports linking alcohol use and fetal
deficiencies in growth that emerged from France in the late 1950's. Not until the 1960's
was the correlation made between the number of defects and the increasing amount of babies
born with the syndrome. The term Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was coined to describe the pattern
of the abnormalities found in some children born to alcoholic women. It clearly was very
noticeable and distinctive in the recognition of itself and was distinct from all other
patterns of malformation in the fetus; there was a significant association found between
the alcohol consumption rates during pregnancy and a lower general cognitive index of
these children. Being further studied in the 1970's under the heading as a birth defect
that occurs, FAS was one of the most common causes of birth defects. Researchers said that
it occurred in almost 1 of every 500 to 1 in every thousand births.( Seachrist, p. 314)
There is a major thing that causes difficulty in the diagnosis of this disorder though,
its main diagnosis hinges on the obvious facial abnormalities, short stature, and low IQ.
Children who do not meet all of these factors are diagnosed with FAE, Fetal Alcohol
Effect, a milder form of FAS. There are general abnormalities which affect both forms of
the disease. These abnormalities include a deficiency in growth, a pattern of malformation
affecting the face, heart, and urinary tract. There are abnormalities within the brain
that lead to various intellectual and behavioral problems in early childhood, as well as
problems within the central nervous system. As I stated before many factors do play a role
in the development of FAS in an infant. The most prominent among these are the frequency
and the quantity of maternal alcohol consumption during the pregnancy. The timing of the
gestation of alcohol is what determines the level of abnormalities that occur. The stage
of development at which alcohol consumption takes place and that in correlation to the
gestation period, nutritional status, and genetic background all play parts in the
development of the baby and its defects. The alcohol that is being consumed does have an
effect on the cellular and molecular development of the fetus and that is what generally
underlies the development of FAS. There are specifics in diagnosing that doctors look for
in treating a patient for FAS. First of all the eyes are the most common and consistent
sign of FAS, the eyelids especially. Children often appear to have widely spaced eyes but
measurements reveal that they are spaced apart normally. This disparity in sight is caused
by short "fissures (eye openings)". The distance between the inner and outer corners of
each eye is palpebral shortened making the eyes appear smaller and farther apart than
normal. Following the downward pattern, the next common facial defect in children of
FAS/FAE is slow growth in the center of the face. This produces an underdeveloped midface
and the zone between the eye and the mouth may seem to be flattened or depressed and in
congruence the bridge of the nose is often very low. As a result of slow nose growth, the
nose tends to point forward and downward in that same respect. ( Aase, p.5) Subtle but
still a characteristic feature is the philtrum, the area between the nose and the mouth.
Characterized by a vertical midline groove, bordered by two vertical ridges of the skin,
where the grooves meet the red margin of the upper lip it forms a "cupid's bow". In the
development of the FAS child there is a long, smooth philtrum without the ridges that
should be there coupled with a smoothly arched upper lip margin. Where as the facial
abnormalities are very obvious when looked for the abnormalities of the limbs and joints
are less consistent. These include deformities of the small joints of the hands as well as
an incomplete rotation at the elbow. ( Aase, p.5) Looking inwardly to the problems that
may occur children with FAS are also for the most part stricken with a increased risk for
many common birth defects. Of these chronic defects include congenial heart disease,
anomalities of the urinary tract and genitals, and spina bifida. These aforementioned
abnormalities are not specific to FAS but coupled with FAS characteristics they help to
provide a more clear and concise diagnosis. There were many reports of behavioral and
intellectual trouble in all the children that have thus been diagnosed. Beginning with
infancy, the children have problems at feeding and are highly irritable. They also exhibit
unpredictable sleeping and eating patterns which make it hard for the baby to be cared for
and for maternal bonding to occur. During development, both physical and mental, FAS
children have very fine and poor motor coordination skills and it becomes very apparent at
the preschool age. They also are very affectionate but at the same time very hyperactive,
which makes it a problem for the teachers who have them in class to deal with. This is why
they are, during the first few years of school, given the diagnosis of having
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); this diagnosis is given because of their
high activity level, short attention span, and poor short-term memory. Many of these
children require special education help regardless of the fact that their IQ falls between
the normal range. Their hyperactivity calls for them to receive special attention that
normal teachers cannot and at most time will not give them. As FAS children grow into FAS
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