How does alcohol affect fetal development?

(July 13, 2010)

Alcohol Effect On Fetal Development

Although having a baby is likely to be a life changing event, not many people realize how much their worlds are actually going to change until they have the baby. The fetal development throughout the 40 odd weeks of a pregnancy is truly a sight to behold and a wondrous part of nature, despite the many discomforts and alternating variations that the mother has to go through right through the cycle. Right from the time the male sperm latches onto the female egg, the creation of a child begins with the formation of its body, eyes, limbs, central nervous system, immune system, brain as well as every organ occurs. However, one should always keep in mind the fact that the progress of fetal development relies significantly on the nourishment that the fetus receives from its mother. This means that anything consumed by the mother is going to directly impact the child. As a result, any health care expert will always suggest that an expecting mother take her nutrition very seriously. One of the more dangerous aspects of substances consumed by the mother is provided by alcohol – which leads to the development of fetal alcohol syndrome.

Alcohol is known to substantially affect fetal development and involves a number of abnormalities. Mental handicaps and hyperactivity are probably two of the most debilitating aspects of fetal alcohol syndrome and include problems ranging from short term memory, lack of ability to solve problems, impulsiveness, lack of motor coordination, and hearing as well as speech impairment. Unfortunately, the occurrence of the condition is not as rare as most would like and recent surveys show that about 15% of all pregnant women have recently used alcohol while as many as 30% of all pregnant women consume alcohol throughout the term of their pregnancy. The consumption, when distributed to the growing fetus, will cause an impairment of the central nervous system while the developing brain cells will remain malformed as a result of the alcohol exposure. Studies have also shown that fetal alcohol syndrome happens to be the leading cause of mental retardation in the western world at this time. It is important not to forget that Fetal alcohol syndrome also plays a role in the structural aspect of fetal development. The growth deficiencies of the affected children range from severe – where the child’s height and weight are both below the 3rd percentile; to mild where the height and weight are between the 3rd and 10th percentiles.

Submitted by P T on July 13, 2010 at 04:40

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