Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a series of health problems that occur in infants due to mothers consuming alcoholic beverages during pregnancy . The problems that occur can include physical, mental, or a combination of the two.

It is important to remember that there is no safe alcohol level for pregnant women to consume. FAS can occur in the fetus even if the amount of alcohol consumed is only small. In other words, fetal alcohol syndrome can have a serious impact on the quality of life of sufferers and their families in the long term.

Causes of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome can occur if a woman consumes alcohol during pregnancy . When a pregnant woman consumes alcoholic beverages, the alcohol in the mother's blood will flow to the placenta and enter the fetal blood stream.

Even if the alcohol consumed doesn't make the mother drunk, the fetus cannot process alcohol like adults. Even low levels of alcohol can damage the brain, spinal cord, and other organs in the developing fetus. In addition, alcohol can also interfere with the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus.

Fetal alcohol syndrome risk factor

The fetus or baby is at risk of developing fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) if the mother has a habit of consuming alcoholic beverages and is sexually active or is planning to have children.

The risk of FAS is the same in every trimester of pregnancy. FAS can occur if a pregnant woman consumes alcoholic beverages in whatever trimester she is pregnant, even in the first week of pregnancy when she is not aware that she is pregnant.

Gejala Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) causes a variety of symptoms. These symptoms are related to physical abnormalities, intellectual and cognitive abilities, and social behavior. The following are symptoms that can arise:

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms of FAS can be seen or detected when the child is born or several months after giving birth. Physical symptoms that can appear in patients with FAS include:

  • Abnormal face shape, such as small eyes, a very thin upper lip, a snub and upturned nose, and no indentation above the lips
  • Small head circumference
  • Hearing impairment
  • Visual disturbances, such as squint
  • Deformities of joints, arms, legs, or fingers
  • Disorders of the heart, kidneys, or bones
  • Slow weight gain and body length

Intellectual and cognitive symptoms

Symptoms related to cognitive and intellectual abilities are caused by disorders of the brain. These symptoms can have an impact until the child reaches adulthood. Complaints that can arise include:

  • Learning disorders, such as difficulty thinking, speaking, and calculating
  • Easy to change mood or mood
  • Difficulty focusing and understanding the meaning of an information
  • Hyperactivity
  • Bad memory
  • Impaired ability to move and maintain balance
  • Difficulty in reasoning and problem solving
  • Difficulty understanding the consequences of a decision

Symptoms of social behavior

Symptoms of social behavior that can appear in people with FAS include:

  • Poor social skills
  • Difficulty getting along with other people
  • Bad time management
  • Difficulty in controlling a behavior
  • Difficulty focusing on work
  • Difficulty planning and working to achieve goals
  • Difficulty when having to change one job to another

Consumption of alcoholic beverages in certain trimesters can cause more severe symptoms in some aspects of intelligence and physical. This is because the fetus undergoes certain developmental stages in each trimester of pregnancy.

The following are examples of the impact of alcohol consumption in each trimester of pregnancy:

  • First trimester: causes abnormal facial growth and slows the development of the fetus in the womb
  • Second trimester: causes children to have low IQ, experience disturbances in cognitive abilities such as reading and counting, and have abnormal length and weight at birth
  • Third trimester: causes abnormalities in height from birth to adulthood

When to see a doctor

If you are pregnant but cannot stop consuming alcoholic beverages, consult your condition with your obstetrician . The doctor will carry out an examination to detect if there are health problems in the fetus.

Check with the doctor if your baby or child shows signs and symptoms as mentioned above, especially if you consume alcoholic beverages during pregnancy.

Early examination is needed to speed up diagnosis and treatment before the child's condition worsens.

Diagnosis Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

There is no examination procedure that can be used to diagnose fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). In addition, the symptoms of FAS are non-specific and often resemble those of other conditions, such as memory loss and hyperactivity, which also occur in people with ADHD .

Therefore, if a baby or child has symptoms of FAS, the doctor will ask the mother for a history of alcohol consumption and examine the signs that appear in the child after birth.

Some of the signs examined are:

  • Face shape and bones
  • Head size
  • Growth graph
  • Sight and hearing
  • Child's ability to move
  • Children's speaking ability

In the unborn fetus, the doctor may perform an ultrasound examination to detect signs of FAS, such as heart defects or growth retardation ( IUGR ; intrauterine growth restriction ), if the mother is known to consume alcoholic beverages during pregnancy.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Treatment

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) cannot be treated. However, treatment can be done to relieve symptoms, reduce the effects that arise, and prevent symptoms from getting worse or accompanied by additional symptoms.

Some of the treatments that can be done according to the symptoms that arise are:

Medicines and medical procedures

There are no drugs that can treat FAS. However, some of the medicines below can relieve the symptoms that arise:

  • Amphetamines, to relieve hyperactivity or lack of focus
  • Antipsychotics, to ease anxiety or angry feelings
  • Anti- anxiety medication, to relieve anxiety disorders
  • Antidepressants , to relieve depression

The drugs above are used especially in patients who experience complications in the form of emotional disturbances or mood disorders. This complication is more likely to occur in older patients and is predominant in intellectual and social behavior disorders.

Medical measures such as surgery can be performed on patients who have congenital heart disease or crossed eyes. However, these measures may not be immediately applicable and will need to be implemented in stages.

Therapy and counseling

There are various kinds of therapy that can be done for children with FAS, depending on their needs. Speech therapy can be done for children who have difficulty speaking. In addition, physical therapy and occupational therapy can be done for children with physical disorders that disrupt their daily activities.

Counseling with a psychologist can also help children whose behavior is difficult to control, difficult to socialize, impulsive and hyperactive. This is important so that children can develop optimally. Children may also need to attend schools with special needs in order to develop their abilities.

Self care

Children who experience behavioral disorders need to be addressed properly by their parents. Things that can be done include:

  • Understand your child's strengths and limitations
  • Stick to a regular daily schedule
  • Make simple rules and stick to them
  • Use short and clear sentences in conveying meaning
  • Give praise or gifts to appreciate good behavior
  • Set a good example of how to go about your daily activities and socialize with others
  • Keep children safe from the environment or people who can worsen their condition

Caring for and mentoring a child with a disability, such as those with fetal alcohol syndrome , can be overwhelming and confusing. Therefore, parents and families of sufferers are advised to take counseling or group therapy to share problems and get support.

Complications of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) can cause several complications, namely:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Mental health disorders, such as depression , anxiety, or sleep disorders
  • Inability to remain or finish school
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Inappropriate and unlawful social behavior

Pencegahan Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Consuming alcoholic beverages during pregnancy is the main cause of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or fetal alcohol syndrome in infants. Therefore, the best effort to prevent this condition from occurring is to do the following:

  • Do not consume alcoholic beverages during pregnancy
  • Take care if you are addicted to alcohol , especially if you want to have children
  • Do not consume alcoholic beverages if you are in a program to get pregnant or have children
  • Stop drinking alcohol if you are sexually active, especially when you are fertile
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