International FASD Awareness Day: The hidden epidemic in newborns

International FASD Awareness Day: The hidden epidemic in newborns

The effects of alcohol are widely known. Excessive alcohol consumption or addiction to alcohol causes health hazards and harmful effects to everybody. However, pregnant women are strictly suggested to consider abstaining from alcohol completely. While women are always inquisitive about the correct amount of alcohol to be consumed during pregnancy, research and doctors suggest that no amount of alcohol is safe during that period.

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy leads to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in newborns. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which represents the most involved end of the FASD spectrum, is found in approximately 0.2 to 1.5 infants for every 1,000 live births across various populations throughout the United States, and in 0.3 out of 1,000 children from 7 to 9 years of age.

Currently, there is very less awareness and knowledge about the condition. Therefore, in a bid to create awareness about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and the plight of individuals and families who struggle with FASD, International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day is observed on September 9 every year across nations.  

Selecting the date carefully as the ninth day of the ninth month of a year, the day is observed to remind people about abstaining from alcohol throughout the nine months of the pregnancy in order to ensure a healthy life to the newborn.

Understanding FASDs

Caused due to the exposure to alcohol when inside the womb, FASDs are a set of disorders that a newborn tends to suffer from after birth. These disorders may range from abnormal appearance, short height, low body weight, small head size, poor coordination, low intelligence, behavior problems to neurological development. Studies also suggest such children to be at higher risk of falling prey to drugs or alcohol addiction.

The most common FASD is fetal alcohol syndrome which is characterized by small facial features such as small eye opening, smooth philtrum, and thinner upper lip. Also, children with this disorder tend to face difficulty in learning and grasping matters.

With no specific data on an exact number of people living with FASD, there are various studies and research being conducted to understand the prevailing aspects of the condition. As per the studies carried out around the disorder and subsequent problems suffered by people with FASD, there is also a high prevalence of comorbid conditions like vision impairment, hearing, and speech and language problem in such individuals, with 91 percent suffering from impulsivity and inappropriate behavior.

Alcohol restricts fetus from getting nutrition and oxygen   

FASDs are caused when the alcohol (consumed during pregnancy) passes through the placenta to reach the fetus. However, since the developing fetus lacks the ability to process alcohol like an adult body, the alcohol gets concentrated in the fetus itself. As a result, the alcohol restricts the fetus from getting enough nutrition and oxygen for a proper growth and development of organs and body. Further, the alcohol also tends to affect the white matter of the brain which is responsible for speeding up the processing of information, thereby hampering the mental development of the fetus.  

The brain and spinal cord of the fetus continue to develop throughout the nine months, hence, it is advised to refrain from consumption of any amount of alcohol during the pregnancy span. However, alcohol has more adverse effects if consumed during the first three months of the pregnancy.

Treating FASDs

Often it is difficult to diagnose the presence of FASD due to its symptoms similar to other kinds of problems and disorders. Therefore, the FASDs could be diagnosed by specialists who follow the process of conducting a physical examination, intelligence tests, occupational and physical therapy, and psychological, speech and neurological evaluations, as well as genetic tests.  

Currently, there is no specific treatment or cure for FASDs. Hence, every occurring problem or disorder is treated on an individual basis. Therefore, an early diagnosis is important in such cases in order to treat the problem on time so that the individual can live and work independently.

Pre-pregnancy restraint from alcohol is equally important  

While it is important to completely restrict consuming alcohol during the time of pregnancy, it is also advisable to refrain from taking it from the time one plans her pregnancy. This is because many times a woman does not get to know if she is pregnant and alcohol in the first trimester can have severe harmful effects on the fetus. It is also imperative to seek medical help for alcohol addiction before planning to get pregnant.

If you or a loved one is pregnant and struggling to overcome alcoholism, get in touch with the Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California for the right treatment available at alcohol rehab centers in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1715 or chat online to enquire about the reputed alcohol addiction treatment facilities in California. Our representative will help you to get in touch with the best alcohol addiction treatment center in California.

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