Consuming alcohol during a pregnancy can cause the baby to be born with birth defects and developmental disabilities.

Babies who are exposed to alcohol in the womb can develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), and these include a wide range of physical, behavioural, and learning problems.

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)?

It is the most severe type of FASD is fetal alcohol syndrome, which is caused by heavy drinking during pregnancy. Those with FAS may have problems with their vision, hearing, memory, attention span, and abilities to learn and communicate. While the defects vary from one person to another, the damage is often permanent.

Source: noFASD

What causes FAS?

As mentioned, heavy alcohol consumption is the sole reason for FAS. The developing fetus is affected as their body cannot process alcohol in the same way as an adult does. When alcohol passes through the placenta to the fetus, the huge alcohol amount is concentrated in the fetus. It will then prevent enough nutrition and oxygen from getting to the fetus’ vital organs.

Damage can be done in the first few weeks of pregnancy, even if a woman in unaware that they are pregnant.

How is it diagnosed?

If you are a heavy drinker and suspect that your child has FAS, doctors will run a physical test on the baby. The test may show a heart murmur or other heart problems, which will confirm the existence of the syndrome.

There are also other signs that will confirm the diagnosis:

  • slow rate of growth
  • abnormal facial features or bone growth
  • hearing and vision problems
  • slow language acquisition
  • small head size
  • poor coordination

Doctors will determine that a baby has FAS if they have abnormal facial features, slower than normal growth, and central nervous system problems.

Sources: KidsHealth, Health Line.

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