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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

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Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) facts

  • The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health publication documents alcohol use during pregnancy at 9.4% and a 2.6% incidence of binge drinking. By comparison, studies have demonstrated 52% of women in the childbearing years (18-44 years of age) consume alcohol and 15% report binge drinking.
  • Infants of mothers who drank during pregnancy may experience a spectrum of consequences that range from "fetal alcohol effects" (FAE), alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD), and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Fetal alcohol syndrome is regarded as the most severe.
  • Some children sustain no obvious side effects of maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

What is fetal alcohol syndrome?

To establish the diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome, specific criteria must be met. These include (1) documentation of three characteristic facial abnormalities, (2) documentation of smaller than expected prenatal and/or postnatal length, weight, and head circumference growth parameters, and (3) documentation of central nervous system abnormalities. These criteria will be further described later in this article.

What causes fetal alcohol syndrome?

Alcohol is rapidly transported via placental blood flow from mother to fetus and is known to cause miscarriage and birth defects. Within two hours of maternal ingestion, fetal alcohol blood levels are similar to maternal alcohol blood levels. There is no established relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and side effects sustained by the infant. This puzzling observation may reflect the maternal rate of alcohol breakdown via her liver.

It has been observed that alcohol consumed at any time during pregnancy may be associated with severe and permanent consequences. First trimester pregnancy alcohol ingestion is linked to the characteristic facial abnormalities of FAS as well as a reduction of intrauterine growth rate. Alcohol consumption during the second trimester also contributes to lower IQ, growth retardation in length and birth weight, as well as cognitive deficits of reading, spelling, and math. Third trimester alcohol consumption amplifies retardation in birth length and ultimate adult height potential.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/15/2014

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Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/fetal_alcohol_syndrome_fas/article.htm

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