Fetal alcohol syndrome is often called the hangover that lasts a lifetime. The only cause of fetal alcohol syndrome is women who drink during pregnancy. This affects the development of the fetus causing physical malformations and central nervous system deficiencies. For physicians, diagnosing fetal alcohol syndrome can be difficult if alcohol use by the mother is either not suspected or not known. Regardless of whether or not fetal alcohol syndrome is diagnosed when the baby is born, the central nervous system effects can last a lifetime. As these children grow into adulthood, they usually do not reach age-appropriate skills necessary for living independently. Treating fetal alcohol syndrome varies depending on the individual's particular symptoms and degree of impairment. The best treatment, however, is prevention and education of pregnant women about the risks of drinking while pregnant and advocating abstinence. Had my mother known the information I am about to provide, maybe my older brother Chris would have been able to lead a normal life!
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is defined as a constellation of physical, behavioral, and cognitive abnormalities in infants and children (Committee par 1), and described as the hangover that lasts a lifetime (Eisenberg et al 53). Women who choose to drink while they are pregnant, is the only cause of FAS. The stage of pregnancy the mother is in when she drinks causes different characteristics of FAS. Drinking during the first trimester of pregnancy affects the craniofacial development, the period in which the facial features are being formed and brain growth is beginning. Drinking during the second and third trimesters could result in decreased fetal growth, resulting in low birth weight and affecting postnatal growth. With the brain continually maturing throughout pregnancy, alcohol affects central nervous system (CNS) development (Thackray and Trifft par 6). However, some women are fortunate to deliver normal babies even though they drank heavily during their pregnancy (Christensen par 4).
Fetal alcohol syndrome has noted physical characteristics. Facial deformities are the most recognizable. These include low nasal bridge and the nose may be short and upturned. Skin is folded over the inner corner of the eye; however, the skin folds are a normal trait of people with Asian ancestry. One or both eyes may be abnormally small, and the child may have a thin upper lip that is not quite developed (Boston 309). The jaw may be ...