Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate August 2001

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

Fetal Alcohol SyndromeFetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a series of mental and physical deficiencies that results from women drinking during pregnancy (National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). Is FAS a preventable problem? FAS is 100% preventable, if the mother does not drink during pregnancy. Even small amounts of alcohol can lead to FAS, because no amount of alcohol has been proven safe to consume during pregnancy (National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). But why such a dispute? Some mothers are unaware of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy, and one-fifth of those who know of the risk of drinking during pregnancy continue to drink (Ritter, 253). To decrease the outcome of FAS, mothers should be required to have tests on a regular basis to monitor drinking problems and have a growing awareness of FAS.

How does a healthy embryo develop into one that has FAS? As the alcohol enters the body, it passes through the placenta & enters the blood of the embryo.

The alcohol lowers the functioning of the nervous system of the embryo (as does the mother's). Alcohol also acts as a "poison"� Similar to other poisons; it is broken down by the liver. It is only in the last few months of pregnancy when the liver is fully developed; thus, the alcohol remains in the embryo for a longer time than it does in the mother. This can be harmful: alcohol destroys many embryonic cells and it also changes genetic information, which can produce a mutation (Ritter, 252).

FAS is the leading cause of Mental Retardation in the world (Taconic), one of few defects that occur in FAS. Other defects include: abnormal facial features, growth deficiencies, behavior problems, learning disability, and Central Nervous System problems (Cooper, DeHart, and Scoufe, 98). Common abnormalities of facial...