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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome - Essay Example

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When a mother drinks, her unborn child is exposed to alcohol which can have serious consequences. "Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders" (FASD) or Fetal alcohol syndrome is the term describing the range of effects that can occur in a child who was exposed to alcohol while in the womb…
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Download file to see previous pages If a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, there are high chances that her baby can be born with FAS, which is a lifelong condition that causes physical and mental disabilities.
In today's world where socializing is considered an important part of life, several times women in their reproductive age expose themselves to alcohol. As a consequence, knowingly or unknowingly alcohol abuse is the leading cause of mental retardation in the western world. The amount and timing of alcohol use by the pregnant women determine the type and extent of resulting birth defects.
FAS is characterized by Holoprosencephaly which is a condition that is linked with failure of the brain to divide into two hemispheres. This condition is generally associated with neuro-developmental and facial abnormalities. Additionally, there are also possibilities of associated abnormalities of the corpus callosum, the brainstem and the cerebellum, particularly the anterior portion of the vermis. Children with FAS may also suffer due to absence of olfactory lobes, hypoplasia of the hippocampus and abnormal or absent basal ganglia; usually hypoplastic or absent caudate nuclei. According to the results of the positron emission tomography scans, abnormalities is seen in glucose metabolism, especially in the anterior caudate nucleus and the vermis of the cerebellum, even in the absence of overt structural abnormalities (Canadian PaediatricSociety, 2007).
There is lack of proper data on the exact prevalence of FAS/atypical FAS. According to studies conducted by Abel (1995), it is estimated that the overall incidence of FAS at 0.97/1000 (0.097%) live births and 43/1000 (4.3%) among babies of heavy drinkers. Based on three population studies, Sampson et al. (1997) estimated the incidence of FAS to be between 2.8/1000 and 4.8/1000 live births, and the incidence of a combination of FAS and ARND to be at least 9.1/1000 live births. In yet another statistic it is said that though all races are vulnerable to FAS, it is excessively higher among American Indian offspring (Aase, 1981).
It is also estimated that each year in the United States, 1 in every 750 infants is born with a pattern of physical, developmental, and functional problems is due to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), while another 40,000 are born with fetal alcohol effects (FAE) (KidsHealth, 2007). It is important to note that variation in these rates depends on the population studied and the surveillance methods used which may be different for different research groups. In yet another study conducted by CDC show FAS rates ranging from 0.2 to 1.5 per 1,000 live births in different parts of the United States. Besides, other FASDs are thought to occur roughly three times as often as FAS (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006).
Historical Perspective of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
It is interesting to note that concerns have surrounded the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy since biblical times. However, Dr. William Sullivan, a Liverpool prison physician noted higher rates of stillbirth for 120 alcoholic female prisoners than their sober female relatives in 1899. This is the earliest known observation of possible links between maternal alcohol use and fetal damage. He also pointed out that the causal agent was alcohol use (Sullivan, 1899).
A case study was conducted by Henry H. Goddard who belonged to one of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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