Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS as it's commonly known, is a collection of defects which develop in an unborn baby as a result of the mother-to-be drinking alcohol. These defects are of both a physical and mental nature and are a lifelong legacy for the baby. The saddest part of this syndrome is that it is 100% preventable.
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The symptoms of FAS include: developmental delays, organ dysfunction, facial abnormalities often with a small head measurement, problems with co-ordination and socialization, and learning and behavioral problems. Low birth weight and continual growth delays are also linked with FAS. There are of course other reasons why a child may display any of the symptoms, especially with the ones which related to the central nervous system, which makes it a difficult condition to have diagnosed. Unfortunately it is possible for children with FAS to be labeled as problematic and not receive the special support that they require in order to function at their best.
When pregnant women drink alcohol they run the risk of giving birth to a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome. This is because alcohol, like most drugs, can cross the placenta where the fetus is not equipped to filter it out quickly. Although there is very little data available to suggest how much alcohol is too much during pregnancy, what is known is that small amounts of alcohol regularly can do less damage to a fetus than binge drinking infrequently. The first trimester is commonly thought by pregnant women to be the most dangerous for affecting the brain growth of the fetus, but the second and third trimesters can also be very dangerous as this is when the main nervous system is more vulnerable. The best advice is not to drink alcohol at all from the time you start trying to conceive a baby as damage can even occur in the early weeks before the pregnancy is confirmed.