Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
It is a shame that in today’s "enlightened" society so many preventable diseases and disorders are still occurring. Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of these totally preventable disorders. It is one of the most frequent and important causes of mental and physical retardation in childhood today.
Only in the past decade or so have scientists identified and named this disorder. However, effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy have been suspected for quite some time. In the Old Testament the wife of Menoh is warned not to drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy (Judges 13, 2-25).
Despite all the current information about the negative effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, many people are still unaware of the complications it can cause. In one study it was found that students were aware that alcohol is a teratogenic substance, but had little knowledge as to the nature and timing of the possible negative side effects that alcohol consumption at each stage might cause (Haemmerlie, 1992).
Besides those who are unaware of the results of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, there are also those women who are aware of the consequences, but don’t care enough or have enough willpower to stop. These alcoholic mothers may know the consequences of drinking during pregnancy but are unable to stop themselves.
The effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol may have a wide range of possible effects; from life--threatening anomalies to mild problems with attention and learning. There are many symptomology’s that are characteristic of FAS children. The diagnosis of FAS can only be made when the patient has at least one abnormality in each of three categories (Sokol & Clarren, 1989): pre- and post-natal growth retardation, typical crainio-facial malformations, and central nervous involvement.
Growth retardation is evident in length, weight, and head circumference. Crainio-facial malformations include short palpebral fissures, a poorly developed philtrum, thin upper lip vermillion, short mandibles, a flattened midface structure, and dysplastic ears. Central nervous system involvement is evidenced by mental retardation. Ophthalmological symptoms are present in 90% of FAS children also. These include myopia, ptosis, epicanthus, hypoplasia of optic disc, and torturous retinal vessels.
Besides intellectual impairment, FAS children sometimes also suffer from attention deficits. One study measured four different areas of attention. The results of the FAS children, though significantly more intellectually impaired, correlated strongly in the other three areas with children diagnosed with Attention- Deficit Disorder (Nanson & Hiscock, 1990). These finding are important in that treatment methods developed for ADD children may also be useful in treating FAS children who have an attention deficit.
Autism may also be a disease caused by alcohol exposure of the fetus during pregnancy. Autistic children diagnosed...