What are The Effects of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure?
When women consume alcohol during their pregnancy, they are exposing their babies to various physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems. It is a fact that prenatal alcohol exposure is one of the leading causes of preventable birth defects among children in the United States.
Close to four decades ago, the effects of excessive alcohol exposure on the developing fetus were initially recognized. Doctors who conducted the research decided to identify it as the fetal alcohol syndrome despite not being researchers on alcohol. Scientists have after that defined a wide range of defects that are caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Presently, the disorders, which fall within a wide range of fetal disorders, are identified as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders [FASD].
It Is Essential To Identify FASD Early In Life
Generally, women fail to disclose their consumption of alcohol to their health care practitioners for various reasons. By withholding the information, they make it difficult for doctors to recognize babies and children with FASD. It is essential to identify this problem early in life when intervention can be effective. In order to develop better methods to identify children with FASD, researchers are presently focusing on defining three areas, namely:
- Structural abnormalities that distinguish children with FASD. They include distinctive facial dysmorphology and differences in the brain.
- Functional abnormalities.
Structural Brain Development
Prenatal alcohol exposure can affect the development of the brain structure. The advances made in imaging technology are giving researchers a better understanding of the effect of prenatal alcohol exposure on the structure of the brain and its functioning. The imaging techniques presently being used are in most cases the magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] and the functional MRI. The studies of people who were exposed to alcohol prenatally have shown differences in the size and volume of the brain and its tissues. This is in sharp contrast to the people who were not exposed to alcohol. The structural differences in the brain could be related to the problems that are faced by people with FASD during tests which are conducted to understand behavior and cognitive skills, including learning and memory.
Interventions And Treatment
Parents of children who are suffering from FASD have great difficulty caring for them. Apart from the problems with learning and remembering new material, the children also face difficulties with motor control, balance, visual perception, attention, and visual-motor coordination. They could also suffer from problems related to planning, daily functioning, as well as their academic and employment opportunities. The difficulties faced by the children can only get worse with age, particularly without intervention. Parents should understand that the problem was caused because of prenatal alcohol exposure, which they should have avoided. However, a variety of interventions and treatment options can help parents and children manage life FASD effectively.
The effects of prenatal alcohol exposure can be devastating on both the affected children and their families. The consequences of FASD are lifelong for individuals, families, and society.You are advised to identify pregnant women who could be consuming alcohol along with children who have experienced prenatal alcohol exposure.
Researchers are the process of investigating new diagnostic techniques and developing a better understanding of the risk factors that are related to alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Family support, school interventions, and new therapies that are being introduced will also prove helpful for people who are already dealing with FASD. However, it is necessary to educate clinicians, parents, and teachers about the available treatments.
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