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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Effects on the Developing Fetus

a person holds their stomach in the shape of a heart

1 in 10 pregnant women drink alcohol during pregnancy. Even just a small amount of alcohol can cause a fetus to develop fetal alcohol syndrome disorder.

FASD affects the fetus all the way through birth and into adulthood. Because of this, it is important to have a wide understanding of the disorder and how to prevent it.

Read on for our complete guide to fetal alcohol syndrome disorder. 

What Is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a disorder that develops during pregnancy. Women transfer this disorder to the fetus when they drink alcohol. It may seem like drinking while you are pregnant won’t have much effect, but it does.

This is why it is important to seek help if you struggle with alcohol. When the fetus is exposed to alcohol, it can end up affecting your child for the rest of their life. 

How Does Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Affect Fetuses?

Believe it or not, alcohol transfers to the fetus. It first goes through your bloodstream, then through your placenta, and directly into the fetus’s bloodstream. 

This exposure to alcohol can cause developmental issues during and after pregnancy. The fetus may have a hard time growing while in the womb, and continue to have those developmental issues after birth.

Because your placenta cannot stop the alcohol from transferring, there is nothing protecting the fetus from what you drink. This means everything you consume while pregnant will directly impact the child. This especially relates to strong substances like alcohol. 

Fetuses at early stages do not have a liver like grown adults do. As you grow, you develop a strong liver that can protect your body from alcohol. Because the fetus does not have this, the alcohol is essentially poisoning it. 

How Does Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Affect Children as they Develop?

Fetal alcohol syndrome doesn’t only affect the fetus in the womb, it also has an effect as they develop into children and adults.

When the baby is born, they may have abnormal physical features. This could affect their growth, their facial features, head size, and weight.

As the child grows older, you will notice other differences. This may be learning difficulties, disabilities, neurological disorders (like seizures), and behavioral issues. 

Many kids with FASD develop hyperactivity symptoms and have poor concentration and memory. Schooling may be very difficult as they have trouble paying attention and learning.

This disorder may also transfer into their social lives, as they may have trouble relating to others. This will become increasingly noticeable as they age and struggle with making friends.

How Do I Know if My Child Has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can often be misdiagnosed as autism or other learning disabilities. This is because the symptoms of some disorders are so similar.

By having a medical professional assess your child and your own history, they can make an accurate diagnosis. While FASD and ASD are similar, there are some differences that can be distinguished.

For example, a study found that 79% of children with autism had a higher nonverbal IQ than verbal IQ. Children with FASD had a higher verbal IQ than nonverbal IQ.

No matter how sure you may feel about your child’s disorder, always have them assessed by a doctor for a correct diagnosis. 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Treatment

While there is no solution to cure FAS, there are ways that you can lessen the symptoms and help the child have a normal life.

There are emotional and behavioral therapies that can help put your child on the right track. By starting this at an early age, you can help lessen their issues in the long run. Starting at an early age is important because you have to teach the child while they are developing. 

There are medications that can help with their attention and other neurological issues. However, these medications will not make the FAS diagnosis go away – these medications will only help lessen the symptoms. Even then, they may not take away all the issues your child could have. 

Preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

The answer to preventing FAS is to avoid alcohol use during pregnancy. 

Some people do not find out if they are pregnant until a few weeks after conception. Because of this, you should also cut out alcohol if you are trying to get pregnant. If you don’t, and you have a drink within the first few weeks of pregnancy, you risk your child developing FAS – even one drink could negatively impact your child for the rest of their life.  

San Diego rehab centers are available if you are struggling. If you have a history of alcohol abuse, you are not alone.

You can seek out San Diego alcohol rehabilitation to assist you in staying sober during pregnancy. This is something to talk to your doctor about if you are considering having a child or unexpectedly become pregnant. Alcohol treatment centers will give you the resources to fight your addiction.

Apex Recovery offers a wide range of drug and alcohol recovery programs. You don’t need to fight this obstacle alone. We have outpatient and inpatient rehab to put you on a better path for your child. 

Protect Your Child Today

You don’t need to risk your child developing fetal alcohol syndrome. Instead, put down the drink and start the road to recovery. You can gain your life back and look forward to the joy you will have as a parent.

Why keep waiting when you can start the journey today? 

At Apex Recovery, our mission is to help you reach your goals. This isn’t a journey you need to do alone. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689