Alcohol Fetal Syndrome and Psychological EffectsIntroductionPre-natal exposure to alcohol is one of the top three known preventable causes of birth defects, mental retardation and neurodevelopment disorders (National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, 2011). According to Dasgupta (2011), a collection of birth defects arising from pre-natal alcohol exposure were identified in 1973, as a clinical entity named fetal alcohol syndrome. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, also known as FAS, can be described as a collection of physical, cognitive and behavioral abnormalities that develop in a fetus in relation to high consumption levels of alcohol during pregnancy.
Children born of this condition reveal varying degrees of effects ranging from mild effects and behavioral difficulties to serious cognitive impairment and multiple disabilities. Resulting manifestations of this condition vary with age and circumstances. This particular paper seeks to provide an analysis of Alcohol Fetal Syndrome in addition to describing its possible psychological effects. According to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (2011), Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the leading known preventable cause of birth defects. This condition attributed to the prenatal exposure of alcohol to the fetus produces a range of effects, and newborns that do not comply with all the diagnosis criteria of the condition may be severely impacted negatively throughout their lives owing to their exposure to alcohol.
This disorder has been largely characterized by prenatal and/or post-natal growth deficiency, a characteristic set of slight facial anomalies, central nervous system dysfunction and pre-natal alcohol exposure (Baldwin, 2005). Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, therefore, include a wide range of unending birth defects attributable to high consumption levels of alcohol by pregnant mothers during pregnancy, and which also includes all severe difficulties found in newborns born with the condition.
Niccols (2002) highlights that the prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome is typically estimated 1to 3 in every 1000 live births in the general population. However, reported incidence varies depending on the study population and design. In addition, an individual having this condition can incur a lifetime health cost of more than $800, 000, with the physical and the behavioral problems associated with it can last for a lifetime. For these reasons, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is therefore a major public health issue.
According to Johnson (2010), individual variations in human bodily processes cause varying manifestations of the effects of both the severe or long-term use of alcohol. Alcohol affects nearly all the organ systems through the natural progression process of the disorder. Abel (2004) argues that prenatal exposure of the fetus to alcohol may affect various individuals in several ways with a significant amount of variability in the levels of psychological, behavioral and cognitive deficits. One of the most significant psychological effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is mental retardation, a result of impaired brain development in the fetus (Dasgupta, 2011).
This developmental disability is often described as an intellectual level functioning that is well below average, and which results in significant limitations in the affected child’s daily living skills. It is considered to be the most severe as well as the unfortunate psychological effect that alcohol has on the developing newborn.