Effects of Alcohol and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Essay

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Effects of Alcohol and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
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Alcohol plays a major role in society today. It is constantly being in our minds through advertisements, whether its commercials or
billboards, holidays, or even just at the popular social scene. Alcohol is
consumed for many purposes, such as celebrations, to increase romance, out of
boredom, or a way to relax. Alcohol is a drug that is depended upon by the
majority of our society. Nonetheless, alcohol has very damaging effects, not
only does it cause self-inflicted diseases resembling alcoholism or cirrhosis
of the liver, but it harms unborn fetuses as well. Many women drink alcohol
when they do not even know that they are pregnant yet. Alcohol can cause
disorders such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effects.

     Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, FAS, is a congenital disorder which is
characterized by a variety of physical and behavioral traits that result from
maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The term Fetal Alcohol Effects,
FAE, indicates that alcohol is being considered as one of the possible causes of
a patient's birth defects. In other words, FAE is a less severe form of FAS.
Both FAS and FAE are the results of the use of teratogens, which are nongenetic
influences that can potentially complicate fetal development.(Harris, p.85)

     FAS is due to the mother's consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.
Alcohol in the woman's bloodstream circulates to the fetus via the placenta.
There, the alcohol intrudes with the ability of the fetus to receive a
sufficient amount of oxygen and nourishment for normal development in the brain
and other body organs. The critical time for alcohol teratogenicity is around
the time of conception.

Effects of FAS/FAE

     Although alcohol is the only cause of FAS, there are unfortunately
numerous effects. Infants with FAS may have a weak sucking response and an
irregular sucking pattern early in life. Some doctors describe them as
distracted and fatigued when sucking. Withdrawal symptoms such as prolonged
twitching, jitteriness, sweating, and hyperactivity have also been reported in
infants exhibited to alcohol before birth. (Timberlake and Birch, p.1)

     Prenatal alcohol exposure is one of the leading known causes of mental
retardation in the United States. Mental retardation is usually mild to

... middle of paper ... be
an increase in the number of women who abstain from alcohol during their
pregnancies. To reach that goal further research needs to continue. There must
be an improvement in public health surveillance methods, a refinement in
methods used for identifying children who have been affected by prenatal alcohol
exposure, a demonstration in the effectiveness of primary prevention programs,
and an investigation on the effectiveness of secondary intervention strategies,
such as foster-care placement and special education strategies.(Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, p.4)

     Not all women who drink during pregnancy will have an infant with FAS or
FAE, but if there is a 40-50% risk of harming the fetus, why chance it? Women
should be more careful when drinking, because drinking often leads to sex even
if it is not planned. The best prevention for FAS/FAE is to either abstain from
sexual intercourse while consuming alcohol, or abstain from alcohol while
planning a pregnancy. Therefore sexual partners should use birth control.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effects are fully preventable and the
responsibility lies within the role of being parents.

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