Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Essay

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Essay

Drinking during pregnancy has remained one of the challenging public health, despite the numerous efforts, which has been implemented by governments and stake holders in the recent past (Buxton, 2005). It is highly notable that, drinking during pregnancy results to notable defects during birth, including life-time effects both to the new born as well as the mother. When a pregnant woman consumes alcohol, the level of alcohol in the body of the baby rises as high as that of the mother. However, the ability of the baby’s liver to metabolize alcohol is significantly lower, a factor which exposes them to higher amounts of alcohol for a prolonged period as compared to the mother (Buxton, 2005). According to Streissguth (1997), alcohol ingested during the pregnancy period may have various deleterious consequences to the developing fetus. One of the extremely severe conditions caused by prenatal alcohol is the fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). These defects can further be divided into alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD) as well as alcohol-related neuro-developmental disorder (ARND) (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). Based on the above arguments, this paper will carefully examine the causes, prevention and treatment of fetal alcohol syndrome.Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Essay
Background at Fetal Alcohol Syndrome


Fetal alcohol syndrome can be termed as a pattern of physical and mental defects, which develops in a fetus as a result of high consumption of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was discovered by two scientists, Drs. Kenneth Lyons Jones and David Weyhe Smith in 1973. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Essay They found a pattern in eight children, according to which, craniofacial and cardiovascular defects were a result of prenatal developmental impediment and growth failure. All those examined were unrelated and born to mothers of three ethnic groups that abused alcohol. As recommended by British Department of Health and Surgeon General from the U.S., FAS there is the need of pregnant mothers not to consume any alcohol as a preventive measure. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000) indicates that, when alcohol is consumed, it crosses the barrier created by the placenta, thus stunting the weight and growth of the fetus. The main effect of FAS is the permanent damage to the central nervous system, mostly in the brain section. According to Buxton (2005) more than 30% of babies, who are born to alcoholic women sustains adequate damage arising from utero exposure, which calls for full diagnozation with FAS. For one to be diagnosis of FAS, there must be growth retardation either post-natally or uterus and CNS damage. CNS damage includes irreversible brain damage, poor coordination, language and speech delay among others. Other symptoms include abnormalities in the head and face.
These abnormalities may include smooth and wide philtrum, thin upper lip small head circumference, underdeveloped jaw, flat mid-face, short and upturned nose, abnormally small and widely spaced eyes and epicanthal folds (Buxton, 2005). It is notable that, developing brain structures and cells can easily be malformed or their development prematurely interrupted due to alcoholic exposure during pregnancy. Consequently, this can result to an array of primary functional and cognitive disabilities, which includes impulsive behavior, poor memory, reduced cause-effect reasoning, attention deficits among others (Buxton, 2005). Secondary disabilities include drug addiction, predisposition to once mental health among others. As indicated by Ethen, Ramadhani , Scheuerle, E.et al (2008), exposure to alcohol during pregnancy presents an enormous risk of damage to the brain as its growth is continuous during pregnancy. As argued by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000), in the Western world, FAS is the single biggest cause of mental retardation, especially in the U.S., European region among others. For instance, in these regions, the prevalence of FAS is approximated to range between 0.2-2.0 in every 1000 live births. However, it is significant to note that, there exists a considerable difference between FASD (Fetal Alcoholic Spectrum Disorders) and FAS. This is because FASD is a condition describing a continuum of birth defects, which are permanent, which include even FAS among other disorders. In the U.S., FASD affects approximately 1% of live births (Buxton, 2005). The cost to families and society dealing with this kind of disorder is staggering. For instance, in the U.S. among other developed nations, it is estimated that, the lifetime social and medical cost incurred per child born with this disorder is approximately $ 800,000 (Malbin, 2002). The figure below compares the incidences of FAE and FAS in the U.S. in comparison to other disorders.Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Essay
The main difference between FSA and FSE is the fact that the first might occur when a pregnant woman suffers from chronic alcoholism. The second appears due to occasional or bring drinking. The fetus is less equipped to eliminate the alcohol as compared to the mother. It depends on the fact that, alcohol might easily pass the barriers of placenta. Therefore, fetus receives the most concentrated dose of alcohol that affects it much longer, than his/ hers mother’s systems (Ethen, Ramadhani , Scheuerle, E.et al, 2008). As argued by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000), the number of drinking pregnant women increases yearly. Every year in the USA, 1 of 750 infants is born with mental, developmental or functional defects referred to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and 40,000 per year are born with Fetal Alcohol Effects (Malbin, 2002). Despite of all these dangers, it saddening that, the number of women being involved in alcoholism during pregnancy is rapidly increasing. This raises some several questions on risk factors, which could be contributing to this trend.
Risk Factors
There are several factors, which exposes one to engage in alcoholism during pregnancy.Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Essay


Maternal Factors
As indicated above, FAS and FAE( Fetus Alcoholism Effects) are all fully preventable by the failure to consume alcohol during pregnancy. However, as argued by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000), this is not possible. This is due to the fact that, in most societies alcohol is a socially accepted drug and in most cases, drinking patterns and sexual experimentations are formalized in teen years and this progress to college level. From a research conducted by Buxton (2005), normal consumption of alcohol has drastically raised, especially among teenage girls and younger women. In August 1988, the journal of obstetrics and gynecology carried out a research concerning drinking during pregnancy and it involved more than 100,000 women. From the study, it was clear that, there are various groups of women who are more likely to engage in drinking during pregnancy.
They include college educated, unmarried, and students and smokers among other groups whose household income exceeds $ 50,000 (Malbin, 2002). From the study it was also evident that pregnant women at higher risk for regular consumption of alcohol are most likely to be either smokers or unmarried. In fact, alcohol and smoking use together raises the potentiality for alcohol related damages in fetus by at least 35% (Clarren, 2005). Generally, health risk for women consuming alcohol is much greater as compared to that of men. This is due to their inability to metabolize alcohol as fast as compared to men (Clarren, 2005).
The other factor, which increases the rate of alcohol consumption among pregnant women is ethnicity. According to studies carried out by CDC catchment study, the incidences of FAS per 10,000 births for various ethnic groups are different. For instance, for the Asians the value is 0.3, Caucasians is 0.9, 0.8, 6.0 and 29.9 for Hispanics, African Americans and Native Americans respectively. With the Native Americans, the occurrence of FAS varies among various cultures (Malbin, 2002). In the case of Afro-Americans a risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome remains seven times more often than in Whites. Investigation discovered frequency of parents’ alcohol consuming, problems related to alcohol, and number of children born. This depends on genetic susceptibility. The table below indicates the prevalence of FAS by ethnicity/race-BDMP (Birth Defects Monitoring Program), between 1981 and 1991.
Alcohol Consumption Pattern
The pattern of alcohol consumption during pregnancy enormously affects the fetus. It is notable that, consumption of more than 5 drinks on daily basis during the first trimester is considered as the strongest predictor to neurobehavioral deficits such as distractibility, hyperactivity, speech and language problems among others. However, it is crucial noting that, since the system of a baby is not mature to metabolize alcohol, there is no any amount of alcohol safe to be consumed during the pregnancy period (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000).Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Essay
Other Factors
There are several secondary factors, which can lead to FAS. Ethen, Ramadhani , Scheuerle, E.et al (2008)argues that, alcohol induced malnutrition is a crucial secondary factor, which may affect a developing fetus. Deficiency of nutrition mostly occurs with alcohol intake as a result of reduced appetite as well as interferences with digestion, nutrition utilization and increased urinary excretion of minerals and vitamins. For instance, alcohol induced depletion of zinc is a major cause of this (Loop, & Nettleman, 2002). According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000), there exists a correlation between fetal malformations and reduced birth weight to zinc depletion (Clarren, 2005). Further, spina bifida can be associated to deficiencies in folic acid. Therefore, there is an enormous need to improve nutrition among pregnant mothers, though this in itself cannot prevent the development of FAS/E (Clarren, 2005).
Characteristics of a Child having Symptoms for FAS/FAE
The following section will undertake a systematic approach and carefully evaluate the kind of damage, which occurs from in utero alcohol exposures (Ethen, Ramadhani , Scheuerle, E.et al, 2008).
Physical Appearances
The following type of facial features is linked with FAS.Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Essay