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Proposal on the Use of Alcohol by Pregnant Women in the U.K and its Lasting Effects - Research Paper Example

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Research Proposal on the use of Alcohol by Pregnant Women in the U.K and its Lasting Effects Introduction While it is widely accepted that heavy alcohol drinking during pregnancy is detrimental to the health of the fetus, the effects of low and moderate drinking are still in question and research findings on these are inconclusive and confusing…
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Research Proposal on the Use of Alcohol by Pregnant Women in the U.K and its Lasting Effects
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Download file to see previous pages This paper responds to this uncertainty by focusing on the effects of low and moderate fetal alcohol exposure. Objectives The aim of this study is to evaluate the drinking experiences of pregnant women and identify the lasting effects of low and moderate prenatal alcohol exposure. The specific objectives of the study are; To ascertain low-moderate prenatal alcohol exposure as a risk factor for childhood, adolescent and adulthood behavioral, intellectual and emotional problems. To identify the main motivators to drinking during pregnancy. To assess the development and mental health of children born to mothers who abstained from drinking for the first trimester but drank alcohol in lightly or moderately for one or two of the remaining trimesters. To assess the mental health of children born to mothers who drunk an average of less than a unit of alcohol per day and those who drank 1-2 units of alcohol per day all through or most of their pregnancy. Literature Review Over the recent years, the proportion of women in the UK in their child-bearing age who take more over 14 units of alcohol weekly has been on the rise (Rickards et al 2004). Consequently, there has been an increasing interest about the potential mental/intellectual, behavioral and emotional health risks of prenatal alcohol exposure on human offspring. Specifically, there has been a huge controversy as to whether or not there exists a safe threshold for alcohol taking during pregnancy and whether the existing international policy recommendations on the same are based on evidence. Such information is of interest given the many cases that evidence negative long-term effects of alcohol on babies exposed to alcohol before birth. In addition, there have been publications and press releases that counter the call for pregnant women to abstain from alcohol. Some of these even promise a slight developmental advantage for kids exposed to alcohol before birth. Alcohol is a toxin and when taken in by a pregnant mother, it rapidly crosses the placenta and interfere the development of the fetus (Gray and Henderson 2006). There are more conclusive evidences associated with high levels of alcohol drinking by pregnant mothers. Mainly, this is damage to the nervous system. It causes brain damage and kills nerve cells resulting to lifetime problems in coordination, movement and learning. Sokol et al (2003) state that at the extreme end, these manifests as fetal alcoholic syndrome (FAS). FAS is a permanent birth defects disorder that affects children exposed to alcohol before birth. In particular, FAS has been linked to heavy drinking especially during the first three months of prenatal development (Alvik et al 2006). Full-blown FAS is the extreme manifestation of a spectrum of disorders related to heavy prenatal alcohol exposure. These disorders include facial defects, small birth weight and stunted growth. Generally, such children exhibit poor coordination, language development, behavioral problems and learning difficulties all their lives. According to Ulleland (1972), alcohol crosses the placenta and can stunt fetal weight or growth, damage brain structures and neurons, cause distinctive facial stigma and cause other physical, behavioral and mental problems. In the US, FAS prevalence is about 1% of all live births (Sampson et al 1997) and in the UK, this figure is estimated to be 2-4% of all live birt ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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