Fetal Alcohol Syndrome In Prenatal Development

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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Prenatal Development

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Prenatal Development


The Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the most serious disease of the fetus induced by alcohol consumption during pregnancy.  For a long time, in fact, it was considered that the abnormal development of infants were attributable to poor sperm quality, environmental or hereditary factors.

The recognition of alterations caused by alcohol on the development has been achieved only recently: the first clinical description of symptoms clearly due to damage pre-and postnatal alcohol was published in France in 1968 and a few years later, in the United States. Since then, more and more studies, conducted around the world, have allowed us to better define the range of different diseases related to exposure of the fetus to alcohol, called "fetal alcohol spectrum disorders" (FASD), and their spread in different countries (Clarren et al., 2001).

At the same stature, women's bodies contain a lower percentage of water than men, so, after drinking the same amount of an alcoholic drink, the alcohol concentration in the blood of women is higher than that of men. The timing of elimination of alcohol, already long in the woman, the fetus are more dilated. If a pregnant woman consumes alcohol, and, above all, acetaldehyde (product of alcohol metabolism) leads directly into the bloodstream of the unborn child through the placenta. The fetus being unable to metabolize alcohol as an adult is consequently exposed for longer within its harmful effects.


Women of childbearing age, sexually active, consuming more than seven drinks per week and do not use effective contraception may face alcohol exposed pregnancy and giving birth to a child with learning disabilities, cognitive, and psychosocial. The likelihood of damage to the fetus increases in proportion to the consumption of alcohol by the mother at high risk is children whose mother has consumed at least 80 grams of pure alcohol per day. However, even taking abundant but sporadic, alcohol poses a danger to the developing fetus, because the consumption of alcohol can affect its development in every moment of the pregnancy.

Here are some examples (Burden et al., 2005):

dismorfologie the facial and brain problems must be exposure to alcohol during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The growth deficiency is linked to exposure during the second half of gestation.

The abnormal development of the skull due to the effect of alcohol in the fourth week of pregnancy.

Severe birth defects normally take over in the first three months of pregnancy, when the baby's organs are developing and in which women are often still unaware of their status.

Many terms have been used to describe the problems of children who suffer from some of the clinical symptoms of FAS. Three of these are: "Fetal Alcohol Effects" (FAE), "Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopment Disorders" (ARND) and "Birth Defects Related to Alcohol" (ARBD).

The abbreviation FAE has been used to define all the partial expressions of FAS, especially in neurological. Fetal alcohol effects may limit the cognitive and psychosocial much as FAS, but do not represent a manifestation mitigated. In 1996, the WHO has replaced the symbol with the FAE more specific ...
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