by Savitha C Muppala on  September 9, 2007 at 4:43 PM Health In Focus
What to Expect When You Drink (Alcohol) During Pregnancy? - Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Little Noah is a frustrated boy. He sticks out like a sore thumb with acute developmental problems. Unable to cope as his peers do, Noah is withdrawn, drowning in his own disabilities. Upon closer look, Noah's head is much smaller and his features are a bit odd. At school, his grades are abysmally low. Worse, he is often pulled up for erratic and deviant behavior. Noah cannot be the master of his destiny; evidently, something had gone awfully wrong before his birth.

Six years ago, Noah, was growing inside the warmth of his mother's womb. In those crucial 9 months, he was also being subjected to slow poison in the name of alcohol. His young mother lived by the bottle. Every time she was in high 'spirits', Noah's was bound to nose-dive for life. Thus, he came into the world with the disabilities associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. For no fault of his, Noah is battling an irreversible condition. Rightly, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or FAS in short, is considered as a form of child abuse, scarring the child for life.

Pitfalls of Alcohol for Moms-To-Be

9th September 2007 is earmarked as International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Day. Expectant mothers, women in their child bearing years and their families must know the repercussions of alcohol and pregnancy. Significantly, the message is - Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is preventable. It is all in the Lady's hands!

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is notably one of the major causes of preventable birth defects in children. The condition affects children of mothers who have consumed alcohol during their pregnancy.

Alcohol directly affects the development of the fetal brain and can cause life long disabilities. Many FAS children are impaired for life- they suffer facial abnormalities, neurological problems, developmental problems, learning difficulties, speech and hearing impairment and mental health problems in varying degrees.

FAS infants are under weight and do not grow normally. Facial features of such children are not formed properly. Some of them have unusually small heads. Many of them grow up to suffer severe mental health problems, cannot cope in the world, and resort to alcohol and drugs. Some of them are also booked for anti-social behavior.

The effects of FAS are life-long. The child has to learn to live with it. The only strategy to combat FAS is 'Prevention'. Let us address the issue.

'Educate and Counsel '- Health professionals urged

It is the responsibility of healthcare professionals to counsel pregnant women and their families about the irrevocable ill-effects of alcohol consumption (during pregnancy) on the developing fetus. Women in the child bearing age should be well informed about the consequences of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Further, it is imperative to recognize those expectant mothers who are prone to this habit, early in the pregnancy itself. The role of the partner and family assumes great importance in timely correction of this unforgivable habit.

Is there a threshold for alcohol consumption during pregnancy beyond which it becomes unsafe for the fetus? How much alcohol is safe? Answers to these questions are still ambiguous and no body of research has yet guaranteed that low doses of alcohol is safe for the growing fetus. It is always better to be SAFE than to be SORRY! Especially concerning one's own child. Experts advise abstinence from alcohol in the crucial 9 months, at least till such time we can get hold of concrete evidence.

What is the moral this Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Day? - If you are pregnant, simply bottle-up the urge to drink- your baby's life will be rocking instead of hitting rock bottom! The huge difference an expectant mom can make to the little one's life can begin with this meaningful STEP. ABSTAIN FROM ALCOHOL, IF YOU'RE PREGNANT.

Source: Medindia

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