Pregnancy is a crucial condition both for the mother and the unborn child. Thus, an extra care is necessary to keep them healthy and safe. However, some mothers, particularly the alcoholic ones, inflict health threat to the baby in their uterus through high alcohol intake during pregnancy. This risks the child to develop Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a condition suffered by newborn babies associated with the mother’s high intake of alcoholic beverages during pregnancy. This is characterized by physical deformities and mental deficiencies upon the child’s birth. However, the defects develop during the growth and development of the fetus within the mother’s womb.

How does alcohol affect the fetus?

Alcohol is a teratogenic substance. It is capable of crossing the placental barrier. Eventually, it can alter the physical and mental development of the baby resulting to birth defects. Therefore, alcohol consumption during pregnancy has no difference with feeding the unborn child with liquor.

Alcohol affects the fetal brain development. It may result to microcephaly (small head size). The malformation of the brain generally affects the intellectual capacity of the child upon birth. Consequently, children with FAS are usually slow-learners. Their mental deficiency may also lead to functional disabilities. However, they are still capable of being educated.

Apart from affecting the mental development of the child, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has adverse effects on the physical development of the baby in the uterus as well. Aside from microcephaly, physical malformation also involves the child’s growth, facial features and heart.

Children with FAS usually fail to thrive. Their height and weight growth is lesser than what is expected of their age. Moreover, three distinct facial features are apparent to them. These include flattened philtrum (ridge between the nose and upper lip), thin upper lip (thin vermilion) and decreased width of the eye (decreased palpebral fissures).

Lastly, alcohol consumption during pregnancy can damage the heart of the fetus. It may cause a formation of hole between the left and right chambers of the heart or failure of closure of the foramen ovale (a hole between the right and left atrium of the heart; present during fetal development but closes after birth). Accordingly, heart murmurs (abnormal heart sound) will be audible upon chest auscultation using a stethoscope.

Is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) a congenital disorder?

No, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is not a congenital disorder. Congenital disorders refer to illnesses which can be inherited or disorders which are related to genetic defects. FAS is not hereditary, it is merely caused by the intake of alcohol by an expectant mother.

Furthermore, an alcoholic father has nothing to do with the child’s development of FAS because alcohol cannot be transmitted from the father to the fetus. On the other hand, an alcoholic husband may influence the pregnant wife to consume liquor during her pregnancy. Besides, even if the pregnant woman is alcoholic, as long as she does not consume any liquor of any amount during pregnancy, the child is not at risk to develop Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

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For more information on Different Types of Diseases, Symptoms and Diagnoses, Please visit: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Alcohol Detox Symptoms and Alcoholic Liver Disease.