Alcohol intake during pregnancy can be dangerous to the developing fetus and can result in several physical as well as mental abnormalities. If the would-be mother consumes alcohol during the early months of pregnancy, it can have more severe effect over the well-being of the baby.
The intake interferes with the neurological development and a number of cognitive as well as physical abilities get hampered. Those mothers who drink excessively during this period are more likely to have babies with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
It is to be noted that unlike mother’s body, an infant’s system is unable to eliminate alcohol from their bodies quickly. This results in abnormal accumulation of this toxic substance in their bodies and has far-reaching repercussions. As long it remains in the blood of the fetuses, it continues damaging body cells and vital systems. In fact, alcohol is considered a teratogenic agent i.e. it causes physical abnormalities and birth defects.
Effects of Alcohol on Developing Babies
Those babies who have high alcohol content in their blood are more likely to suffer from physical abnormalities. The defects are the indication of the fact that the brain development has been hampered in some way or the other. Such babies develop a flattened philtrum (the portion lying just below nose and just above upper lip). They are born with small width between their eyes. The lips, specially the upper one are quiet thin. They are also born with small heads and flat faces.
Alcohol consumption interferes with the proper brain formation of babies; this may result in hampered cognitive and learning abilities of a child. The functional impairment may include defects in social perception, memory, judgment, impulse control, behavioral control, concentration and communication.
Social as well as motor skills of such children are not that well developed. Their grasp on language is poor and attention level is quiet low. Studies have shown that those who were exposed to prenatal alcohol consumption could not learn as many words as the other children of their age group do. Not only this, these whose mothers drank heavily during their prenatal existence have to face difficulties with recall and remember the things.
Some of them could not even recall the things that were displayed a few hours ago. In addition, such children can concentrate on only one subject at a time; their ability to transfer their focus from one thing to the other is highly restricted. Limited growth and low intelligent quotients are the other things that these children have to face throughout their life.
There is a strong correlation of alcohol with the birth defects of a baby. Defects in atrial and ventricular septum are very common. A few babies who were exposed to alcohol before they were born may also suffer from certain skeletal disabilities such as dislocation of joints, small phalanges, and single palmer crease instead of two.
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Abnormal shapes and structures of kidneys are also noticed in such babies. Dysplastic and horseshoe shapes are quiet common. Defective tooth, deafness, and weak immune system have also been noticed in such children. Short nose, almost collapsed nasal bridge, short palpebral fissures, and short fifth finger are also observed.
The other abnormalities include short neck, cleft lip. Some are born with spina bifida in which the spinal vertebrae are not closed at the end. Under the influence of alcohol, the amount of blood transported from heart to lungs is decreased and this results in blue baby syndrome. Many are born with a heart murmur.
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Another lethal condition that may result by the taking in of alcohol during pregnancy is hydrocephalus. In such a case, cerebrospinal fluid gets accumulated in the brain of a baby which in turn exerts abnormal pressure over skull. Head of such babies become extra large with time; they are born with mental disabilities and convulsions. As they grow up, they find difficulty in feeding themselves, their facial appearance changes and all this is accompanied by high temper and lack of coordination. The disease is life threatening.
Both the peripheral and central nervous systems (CNS) have the chances of getting impaired in case of babies with alcohol exposure. Epilepsy, loss of hearing, poor motor skills, mental retardation, and seizure are the common neurological disorders that are the result of CNS impairment. Children may show delinquent behaviors In extreme cases, it can also cause death of the child.
Poor Planning and Execution
Those children that got exposed to alcohol during their prenatal existence are low at abstract thinking and have poor problem solving strategies.
Alcohol puts mothers at the risk of miscarriages. Certain cases of still birth as well as premature birth have also been noticed.
Drinking by pregnant women poses a threat to the brain cells of the developing fetus; connective tissues are also severely damaged. Such children become easily irritated and have poor body coordination. Hyperactivity is also associated with them. In certain cases, genitals are not formed properly. The vital organs like liver.
The direct link between the amount of drinking and the degree of harm done to the fetus is not yet established. According to the medical practitioners, even a small amount can be hazardous to the health of the fetus. It varies from person to person; health of the mother and the age in which they become pregnant play an important role in deciding that. Besides, if mothers have had other drugs or smoked heavily during pregnancy, this increases the risk considerably. Every year 1 in every 500 children born after alcohol consumption are found to have seen or the other defect.
Most of the abnormalities are permanent and irreversible. Mothers who drink during the period of thro pregnancy put their child’s life at risk. Seeing the harm that it can create, women should abstain from drinking through their period of pregnancy. Leave aside binge drinking, even small or moderate drinking can be life-threatening. It is better to stop your tendency as long as you are carrying the fetus.