guide to Fetal Drug & Alcohol Syndrome books

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Fetal Drug & Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a disorder of permanent birth defects that occurs in the offspring of women who drink alcohol during pregnancy. It is unknown whether amount, frequency or timing of alcohol consumption during pregnancy causes a difference in degree of damage done to the fetus. Thus, although prenatal alcohol exposure does not automatically result in FAS, the current recommendation is not to drink at all during pregnancy.[1]

Alcohol crosses the placental barrier and can stunt fetal growth or weight, create distinctive facial stigmata, damage neurons and brain structures, and cause other physical, mental, or behavioral problems.[2][3][4] Surveys found that in the United States, 10-15% of pregnant women admit to having recently used alcohol, and up to 30% use alcohol at some point during pregnancy.[5][6][7] The main effect of FAS is permanent central nervous system damage, especially to the brain. Developing brain cells and structures are underdeveloped or malformed by prenatal alcohol exposure, often creating an array of primary cognitive and functional disabilities (including poor memory, attention deficits, impulsive behavior, and poor cause-effect reasoning) as well as secondary disabilities (for example, mental health problems, and drug addiction).[4][8] The risk of brain damage exists during each trimester, since the fetal brain develops throughout the entire pregnancy.[9]

Fetal alcohol exposure is the leading known cause of mental retardation in the Western world.[10] In the United States the FAS prevalence rate is estimated to be between 0.2 and 2.0 cases per 1,000 live births, comparable to or higher than other developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome or spina bifida.[11] The lifetime medical and social costs of each child with FAS are estimated to be as high as US$800,000.[12]

The article above is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome".