Alcohol use during pregnancy may cause lifelong disability for the child


By Karyn Tucker, RD, LD - WIC Director, FCPH



Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a condition that occurs when an unborn infant is exposed to alcohol use by mother. The alcohol passes from the mother’s blood through the umbilical cord and effects the development of infant. FAS is the most severe condition of alcohol effect on a person. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are a group of symptoms caused by fetal alcohol syndrome.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a lifelong disability and the symptoms include:

Infants:

– Abnormal facial features (smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip, thin upper lip and small eyes and head)

– Low body weight

– Shorter height

– Difficulty sleeping and poor feeding

Early Childhood

– Vision or hearing problems

– Heart and Kidney problems

*Hyperactivity

*Learning Disabilities

*Speech and Language delay

*Low IQ

*Poor coordination

*Poor judgement skills

*Poor school performance

Diagnosis

A person with FAS may be diagnosed in infancy or it may go unnoticed until entering preschool or kindergarten. A person may have a few of the symptoms (FASD) or experience all symptoms (FAS). in severe cases of FAS there is central nervous system problems which would include disruption of brain development and poor motor skills.

Early Intervention

There is no cure for FAS, however early intervention will help which includes:

1) Diagnosis before age 6

2) Enrollment in special education and social services programs

3) Stable home environment

No safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy

In a 2022 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC found that 14% ( or 1 in 7 pregnant people) reported current drinking and 5% reported binge drinking while pregnant.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may be avoided by proper prenatal care and abstaining from consuming alcohol of any type at any time during pregnancy. THERE IS NO SAFE LEVEL OF ALCOHOL USE while pregnant. Infants continue to develop throughout the pregnancy and any alcohol use at any time can be harmful. Any alcoholic beverage is equally harmful (liquor, beer or wine).

Resources available

If you are pregnant and struggling with an alcohol addiction please reach out to your health care provider or public health department for help. It is safer for the unborn infant to quit at anytime in the pregnancy.

If you have a child or are the caretaker of a child that may be exhibiting signs of FAS please call your local early intervention program or your local school district for further evaluation.

If you are pregnant and interested in the WIC Program please call (740)333-3552. We offer referrals for services if needed.

Karyn Tucker, RD, LD, is the WIC Director at Fayette County Public Health. For more information, please call her at 740-333-3552.

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By Karyn Tucker, RD, LD

WIC Director, FCPH