Emily's mother, Sarah, enjoyed one or two glasses of wine every night during her pregnancy. However, she had no idea about its devastating effects on her unborn child. Emily was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which affected her physically and mentally.
What is Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome?
Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome is caused by the mother's excessive consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. The alcohol passes into the unborn baby's bloodstream, causing damage to its developing brain and body.
The physical effects of Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome
1. Facial abnormalities: One of the most distinctive effects is the presence of specific facial abnormalities in the newborn. These include a small head circumference, small eyes, a thin upper lip. Also, the groove between the nose and the upper lip is abnormally thin.
2. Hearing and vision problems
3. Short height
The mental effects of Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome
- Difficulty with attention and memory
- Learning difficulties: Affected children often have learning difficulties, including problems with reading, writing, and math. They may also need help understanding abstract concepts and extra support to succeed academically.
- Speech and language problems: Many children with the syndrome have speech and language problems, including delayed language development, difficulty with articulation, and trouble understanding and using language. These problems can make it difficult for them to communicate effectively and form relationships with others.
- Sensory problems: They may experience sensory issues, including sensitivity to light, sound, and touch, and have difficulty processing sensory information and become overwhelmed or anxious in certain situations.
- Behavioural problem: Behavioural issues, including hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty with social interactions can occur. They may have trouble controlling their impulses, following rules, and relating to others. These problems can make it difficult for them to succeed in school or form lasting relationships.
Preventing Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome
The best way to prevent Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome is to avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Even moderate drinking can harm the developing baby.
Diagnosing Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome
Diagnosing Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome can be difficult, as the symptoms vary significantly from child to child. However, doctors can use a combination of physical and behavioral assessments to make a diagnosis.
Treating Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome
There is no cure for Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome, but early intervention can help minimize the condition's impact. Children with Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome often benefit from therapy, special education, and other support services.
The long-term effects of Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome
The effects of Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome can last a lifetime. Children with the condition may struggle with learning, behavior, and social skills. As they grow older, they may also experience mental health problems and difficulty finding employment.
The importance of awareness
Awareness of Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome is crucial to prevent more children from being affected. Education about the dangers of alcohol during pregnancy and support for families affected by Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome can minimize the impact of this devastating condition.
Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome is a preventable condition that has lifelong consequences for the affected child. It is crucial for women to avoid alcohol during pregnancy and for healthcare providers to diagnose and support children with the condition. We must raise awareness of Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome to prevent more children from suffering the same fate as Emily.