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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Alcohol In The Womb Linked To Mental Abnormalities

English: Baby with the FAS-syndrome. Deutsch: ...
Baby with the FAS-syndrome.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fetal alcohol syndrome is diagnosed when three distinct abnormalities are identified:
  • Abnormal facial features
  • Abnormal physical growth 
  • Central nervous system indicators that affect learning, behavior, language or mental function
A new mother may easily be able to recognize abnormal facial features and low weight and short stature in their infant, even through toddler years; however, it can take a couple of years to zero in on language problems (learning to talk), learning disabilities, or behavior abnormalities. And this assumes that both the mother and child are regularly being seen by a family practitioner or pediatrician.

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is preventable. Don't drink when you're pregnant! Warning labels are found on all alcoholic drinks, restaurants post warning signs, and retailer/wholesalers also post warning signs about the dangers of consuming alcoholic beverages if you are pregnant.

This past week a new study was posted online and it will appear in the October 2012 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The study's corresponding author is Dr. Devon Kuehn, a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. 

Dr. Kuehn and her colleagues studied children born to 101 Chilean women who drank at least four alcoholic drinks each day of their pregnancy. These children were followed for 8 years post birth. Near 80% of these children presented with one or more abnormality associated with alcohol exposure. The most common being those abnormalities associated with the central nervous system: mental function, learning, and behavior issues. When a child does not have all three abnormalities: facial features, growth issues and central nervous system issues, then they are diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

HealthDay reports that in a news release Dr. Edward Riley, a professor at the College of Sciences at San Diego State University stated: "It is critical to note that while physical characteristics associated with [fetal alcohol syndrome] were not all that common, over 40 percent of the exposed children had evidence of functional abnormalities."

Also, important is that this study found an association between heavy drinking by mother and a child's development; however, it did not prove a cause and effect relationship.
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