A healthy lifestyle of the mother throughout the pregnancy is essential to ensure the good development of the fetus and the good quality of the health of the child. Therefore, some toxic habits like alcohol and tobacco can lead to serious complications in the growth of the little one.
In the case of alcoholic habits or behaviors, the consumption of this type of drink can have serious consequences. such as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Throughout this article, we will talk about its characteristics and symptoms, as well as its diagnosis and possible treatment.
What is fetal alcohol syndrome?
Fetal alcohol syndrome is a condition that is classified as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (TEAF). This spectrum refers to a group of diseases or conditions that can appear in cases where the mother has consumed certain amounts of alcohol during pregnancy, causing a number of physical and mental consequences for the baby.
These disorders are characterized by the presentation a series of physical, mental, behavioral and cognitive abnormalities in infants who have themAs the alcohol consumed by the mother gets transferred into the child’s bloodstream.
In the specific case of fetal alcohol syndrome, it is the most serious or harmful condition across the spectrum of alterations or abnormalities caused by exposure to alcohol during fetal development, regardless of death of the fetus by alcoholism.
Babies diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome usually have a number of pathological physical features such as deformation of facial features, Growth disturbances or developmental problems with the central nervous system.
The main psychological consequence of these irregularities in the process of fetal growth is the appearance of learning difficulties and alterations in memory processes, ability to communicate, attention, as well as sensory difficulties at the visual or auditory level. The alterations also pose a risk of social exclusion for these children, as school and integration problems are common.
Regarding the incidence of this syndrome, exposure of the fetus to certain levels of alcohol it is the leading cause of intellectual functional diversity in developed countries, Well above genetic alterations.
What are the symptoms?
As described above, fetal alcohol syndrome is distinguished by exhibiting a number of symptoms both physical or visible, as well as organic or related to the neurological development of the baby.
The clinical picture of FAS is classified into three different symptom groups. Those related to craniofacial abnormalities, central nervous system alterations and general developmental delay.
1. Craniofacial abnormalities
There are a number of characteristic physical traits that distinguish children diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. These are:
- Flat nasal filter or crush the space between the nose and the upper lip.
- Tightening of the upper lip.
- Decreased size of eyelid cracks or abnormally small eyes.
2. Alterations of the central nervous system
Problems or abnormalities in the development of the central nervous system can manifest themselves to varying degrees, depending on the amount of alcohol to which the fetus has been exposed. This damage can be divided into three different planes:
- Changes in the formation of the anatomical structure, Usually expressed as microcephaly or irregularities in the formation of different areas of the brain.
- Pathologies associated with neurological functioning such as convulsions and spasms, coordination problems or sensory difficulties such as visual and hearing difficulties.
- Changes in intellectual functioning manifested in the form of behavioral disturbances, problems with self-control, problems with attention and hyperactivity, intellectual functional diversity, lack of social skills, memory problems, etc.
3. Delay in generalized development
It manifests itself in the form of pathologies related to the weight and size of the baby. Who must be below the average healthy born child.
What are the causes?
The main and only cause of fetal alcohol syndrome is maternal alcohol consumption throughout pregnancy. Alcohol in drinks can pass into the fetal bloodstream through the placenta, causing all kinds of interference and alterations in its development.
Although it has not yet been possible to reliably establish at what level of consumption the first symptoms appear, it has been determined that the more alcohol the mother consumes, the more symptoms are high and more severe in the baby.
In the same way, the stage of pregnancy at which it occurs during consumption is also decisiveAs the consumption of alcoholic beverages throughout the first trimester is even more dangerous than doing it at any other stage.
How can you diagnose?
In cases where the healthcare professional suspects the possibility of fetal alcohol syndrome, a series of tests that can be performed to confirm the diagnosis:
- Assessment of the state of the heart revealing a cardiac abnormality.
- Tests the mother’s blood alcohol levels, provided she shows signs of intoxication.
- Neuroimaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs after the baby is born.
- Ultrasound tests during pregnancy.
Is there a treatment?
Since the injuries to the baby are permanent and irreversible, it has not been possible to develop a treatment capable of reversing these symptoms. However, the prognosis or intensity of treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms.
Consequently, the intervention protocol is generally limited to the treatment of these cognitive symptoms such as lack of attention or special educational needs, in order to facilitate the child’s academic and social adjustment and, therefore, to improve his quality of life as much as possible.