The newsLINK Group - Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Editorial Library Category: Medical | Pediatrics for Members Topics: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Title: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: What is it and Why Should I Care? Author: Holly Willard, LCSW, RPT-S Clinical Director of James Mason Centers for Recovery Synopsis: More infants are born are impacted by complications due to alcohol consumption during pregnancy than Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Spina Bifida, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome combined. Editorial: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: What is it and Why Should I Care? 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 More infants are born are impacted by complications due to alcohol consumption during pregnancy than Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Spina Bifida, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome combined. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it passes through the placenta and is absorbed by the unborn baby. The names given to the variety of birth defects caused by the mother’s use of alcohol use during pregnancy include Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Fetal Alcohol Symptoms (FAS), Fetal Alcohol Exposure (FAE), and most recently, Alcohol Related Neurological Disorder (ARND). Simply put, all of these terms refer to damage, usually to the child’s brain, caused by the mother’s use of alcohol. Many times, the damage is caused before the woman even knows she is pregnant. Children with FASD/FAS/FAE/ARND typically have multiple handicaps. Birth defects caused by alcohol include mental retardation, facial changes, brain damage, learning and behavioral problems, stunted growth, low birth weight, heart defects, fetal death, and increased risk for abuse of substances, etc. Alcohol as a solvent, raises havoc on the unborn child’s brain. The tragedy is that alcohol is not only the number one cause of mental retardation in the United States, but that it is frequently preventable. There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy and no known time when drinking alcohol is safe. Alcohol can do more damage to the developing embryo and fetus than illegal drugs - even heroin and methamphetamine. Because their brain damage is permanent, those affected by FASD are not going to “grow up”, “develop”, “change”, or learn in the typical ways. Alcohol impaired children often look normal, and tend to go unnoticed by the schools. Some may have normal IQ's, but very poor behavior, subtle and multiple learning disabilities, weaknesses in attention, memory, judgment, and difficulties primarily in verbal reasoning/auditory processing. Many times, such children and adults are misdiagnosed with ADD, ADHD and other similar problems. Such children will often require lifelong special medical, educational, familial and community assistance to maximize their potential. Individuals with FASD are also disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system and experience high rates of substance abuse and mental health problems. Adolescence and early adulthood reflect particularly critical developmental periods during which there is an increased risk for problematic behavior and continued engagement in serious substance abuse patterns and criminal justice system involvement. September 9 th , is Fetal Alcohol Awareness Day. The ninth day of the ninth month was chosen to represent the nine months of pregnancy, and the time during which a pregnant woman must avoid consuming alcohol. Even though the mother may barely feel the effects, the fetus will be deluged in alcohol and may never fully recover. To put it simply, women should not drink alcohol if they are planning a pregnancy, not avoiding pregnancy, at any time during pregnancy, or while breast-feeding. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, no alcohol is the ONLY choice. If you or someone you know drank before they realized the dangers, stop NOW and see your doctor. For more information contact : www.utahfetalalcohol.org Sources: The Asante Centre for Fetal Alcohol Assessment, http://www.asantecentre.org/, Canada’s premier FASD site. Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit. University of Washington, http://depts.washington.edu/fadu. Julianne Conry and Diane K. Fast, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the Canadian Justice System , Vancouver: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Resource Society, 2000. Diane Malbin, Trying Differently Rather Than Harder: Fetal alcohol syndrome and alcohol-related neurodevelopmental

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