Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Vital Choice

Essay by tristan55555High School, 12th gradeA+, June 2004

download word file, 4 pages 4.7

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

The Vital Choice

What is the leading known cause of mental and physical birth defects, surpassing both spina bifida and Down syndrome? Which drug produces more severe abnormalities in a developing fetus than heroin, cocaine, or marijuana? The answer to both questions is the same: alcohol. Alcohol (wine, beer, or liquor) is the most common preventable cause of birth defects. Women drink alcohol during pregnancy, they risks giving birth to a child who will pay the price in mental and physical deficiencies for the rest of his life. Yet many pregnant women do drink alcohol, and it is estimated that one in every 750 infants is born with full-blown fetal alcohol syndrome. Another 50,000 children are born with fetal alcohol effects (FAE) each year.

FAS is identified as a pattern of physical, developmental, and functional abnormalities in a child resulting from a woman's drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Characteristics of children with FAS include:

Low birth weight

Small head circumference

Failure to thrive

Developmental delay

Organ dysfunction

Facial abnormalities, including smaller eye openings, flattened cheekbones, and indistinct philtrum (an underdeveloped groove between the nose and the upper lip)


Poor coordination/fine motor skills

Poor socialization skills, such as difficulty building and maintaining friendships and relating to groups

Lack of imagination or curiosity

Learning difficulties, including poor memory, inability to understand concepts such as time and money, poor language comprehension, poor problem-solving skills

Behavioral problems, including hyperactivity, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, stubbornness, impulsiveness, and anxiety

Children with FAE display the same symptoms, but to a lesser degree, and are less likely to have mental retardation

Researchers have found that genetic mutations in the brain result in damage to the corpus callosum, the bundle of fibers that connects the brain's two sides. Interestingly, this part of the brain is...