What can happen to a fetus when a pregnant women d

FASrinks heavily during her pregnancy?
It can lead to permanent, irreversible and incurable effects that will bring a lifetime of pain for
both the child and the family. These permanent and unchangeable effects arise from a fetus
attaining fetal alcohol syndrome from its mother. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a pattern of
malformations and disabilities resulting from a pregnant woman drinking heavily during her
pregnancy. FAS is unique in that effects on the children are directly linked to maternal drinking
habits. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is currently the leading cause of mental retardation in the United
States. A baby with FAS can suffer from mental retardation, central nervous dysfunction, organ
dysfunction, facial abnormalities and many other effects. At least 5,000 to 10000 infants are born
each year in America with FAS. There is a little less then a 50% chance that the new born child,
whose mother drank heavily during pregnancy, will be born with FAS. Even if the child is not
born with FAS, there is a better then 50% chance that the child will have many Fetal Alcohol
Effects (FAE) from maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy (Berhow 364). Each infant
that is born with FAS is a large financial burden. The institutional and medical costs for one child
with FAS is an average of over a million dollars during the child’s lifetime. Whatever the mother
drinks while she is pregnant, the child inside her is drinking. If the mother gets drunk from
consuming to much alcohol so will her child. A mother’s high risk behavior during pregnancy
effects the child more then it might effect her. But FAS is a syndrome that is 100% preventable.
The only way to prevent FAS is for a pregnant woman to abstain from drinking alcohol during her
entire pregnancy.

“In a broad sense FAS may be viewed as a repercussion of an external environmental
influence on the internal physiological environment of the developing fetus” (Caleekal). What a
mother does to herself externally has an immediate impact on the fetus which lies inside her. If a
pregnant woman drinks wine, beer, or any liquor when she is pregnant, her baby could develop
FAS, its that simple. The disabilities which stem from FAS will last a lifetime. No amount of
alcohol has been proven safe to consume during pregnancy. Heavy drinking on a consistent basis
or binge drinking on an occasional basis can produce FAS. A combination of factors determines
whether the exposed child will be afflicted with FAS. “FAS is not necessarily the result of only
full-blown alcoholism but rather it can result from drinking any amount of alcohol in excess of the
level to detoxify it thus placing the fetus at risk” (Caleekal). A mother’s nutritional status and
physical well-being might also play roles of varying significance in determining whether an infant
is affected, and to what degree, by the prenatal exposure to alcohol (Berhow 364). The most
common effects seen is an increase in miscarriages. Babies can also be born at a low birth weight,
birth length, and with a small heads resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure. There are many
different factors that can produce birth defects from FAS. Agent (alcohol, crack, heroin) Dosage
(how much is used), Timing of Exposure (when is it used?), individual factors of mother and
child, genetic factors, nutritional factors, metabolic factors are what birth defects are dependent
on (Berhow 364).

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FAS is characterized by three symptoms which affect different areas. The three areas
affected are; prenatal and/or postnatal growth retardation, Central Nervous System (CNS) and
head and facial abnormalities (Wynbrandt 208). With prenatal and postnatal growth retardation,
infants are born weighing less the average newborn and are shorter in length. The central nervous
system is composed of the brain and spinal cord. The nervous system develops in the first 8
weeks of child birth, making the most damaging effects result in this period. Damage to this area
is displayed through mental retardation and severe learning disabilities. Head and facial
abnormalities, facial deformities such as a thin upper lip, absence of a groove between the nose
and upper lip and small eye openings. The teeth of individuals with FAS are often


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