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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) consists of birth defects and developmental abnormalities resulting from alcohol consumption by the mother during pregnancy. FAS is characterized by brain damage and growth issues, with the severity of symptoms varying among affected children. Unfortunately, the damage caused by FAS is irreversible.

Consuming alcohol at any stage of pregnancy is risky, as no safe level has been established. Alcohol exposure can lead to significant developmental and physical problems in the fetus, including distinctive facial features, growth retardation, and organ deformities. Intellectual disabilities and problems with emotional regulation and social interaction are also common in children with FAS.

Symptoms of FAS cover a broad spectrum, including but not limited to:

  • Distinct facial characteristics such as small eye openings, thin upper lip, and flattened space between the nose and upper lip.
  • Physical anomalies like joint, limb, and finger deformities, as well as heart, kidney, and bone issues.
  • Growth deficiencies before and after birth.
  • Neurological issues, including poor coordination, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.

Diagnosing FAS early can mitigate some of the long-term effects, particularly in areas such as learning difficulties and behavioral challenges. If you consumed alcohol during pregnancy and are concerned about your child’s development, consulting a healthcare professional promptly is crucial.

The cause of FAS is direct: alcohol from the mother’s bloodstream crosses the placenta to the fetus, impairing growth and causing damage. The fetus’s inability to process alcohol as efficiently as an adult leads to heightened blood alcohol levels, which can interfere with the development of vital organs and systems. The risk of FAS is present throughout pregnancy, and the likelihood of developmental issues increases with the quantity of alcohol consumed.

Risk factors for FAS include any alcohol consumption during pregnancy. To prevent FAS, women should abstain from alcohol if they are pregnant, think they might be pregnant, or are trying to conceive. For those with alcohol dependence issues, seeking help before becoming pregnant is advisable.

Complications from FAS extend beyond birth, potentially leading to secondary disabilities such as ADHD, mental health disorders, educational difficulties, employment issues, and substance abuse.

Prevention of FAS

Abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. Stopping alcohol consumption as soon as pregnancy is detected—or better yet, if pregnancy is planned—can prevent FAS. Women of childbearing age are advised to consider the risks of alcohol consumption, especially if they are sexually active and not using contraception, as many pregnancies are unplanned.

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    Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specializing in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa, and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance, the organization facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualized care that addresses the physical, mental, and social needs of patients.

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