What Is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)?

Pregnant woman with red wine

FASD is the term used to group together the many abnormalities that can occur in infants whose mother drank alcohol throughout her pregnancy. When a fetus is exposed to alcohol in the womb, it can greatly impact its mental and physical development, as well as lead to other complications, such as miscarriage or stillbirth. If you are pregnant, or think that you may be, avoid drinking alcohol, as no amount is considered safe for consumption.

There are various symptoms that accompany FASD. As far as physical appearance, a child may have irregularities in facial structure, a smaller-than-average head size, a shorter body length, and a lower overall weight. He or she may show signs of behavioral and learning disabilities, as well, such as short attention span, poor memory skills, speech impediments, and problems sleeping. All of these things play large roles in the child's life and will limit its capability to complete typical day-to-day activities. Children with FASD may need to take special classes in school, as well as have different rules and standards in sporting events to accompany their specific needs.

When it comes to curing FASD, there are no treatments available that will make any of the disorders go away. Steps can be taken, though, to ensure that a child goes through life with as much ease as possible. Doctors can prescribe various medications that may help with behavioral issues, allowing the child a greater ability to focus and maintain a productive lifestyle. Counseling is another great option for monitoring these conditions and ensuring that the child is learning in the most effective ways possible. The sooner treatment is started, the better, so catching signs early is important.

As far as home life, maintaining a stable and positive environment is key in monitoring behavioral issues and seeking improvements. A loving atmosphere is important for helping any child reach their highest potential, especially one who is facing numerous challenges. By experiencing a patient and nurturing environment, and by avoiding turbulence at all costs, a child with FASD will benefit greatly. Aggressive situations may make symptoms worse and limit the child’s ability to thrive.

Women who are currently pregnant and have been drinking alcohol, are advised to stop immediately as this will greatly lower the chances of the baby getting FASD. When the alcohol enters the blood, it is passed through the umbilical cord and given to the baby. In order for the mother and baby to stay in the best possible condition, the mother should opt out of drinking alcohol throughout the entire pregnancy. If drinking cannot be stopped, due to addiction, a doctor's advice should be sought, as far as treatment options and centers. The best thing a mother can do for her unborn child is maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating right, staying active, and surrounding herself with a safe environment.

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