Generally referred to as FASD, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are the most common, and yet most preventable of all mental disorders in the industrialized world. FASWorld is dedicated to the idea that a woman should not drink alcohol when planning or during pregnancy.
MR Images show how Fetal Alcohol exposure affects children’s brains. Children exposed to alcohol during fetal development show brain structure and metabolism alterations that can be seen using various imaging techniques.
The study’s findings were presented November 25, 2012, at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), held in Chicago (IL, USA). Alcohol use by expectant mothers can lead to problems with the mental and physical development of their children – a disorder known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are caused by maternal drinking alcohol in pregnancy.
- No amount of alcohol and no time in pregnancy have been established as safe for the fetus.
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are the biggest single cause of mental disabilities in most industrialized countries, and could be totally prevented if all women abstained from alcohol during pregnancy.
- Less obvious and seemingly milder fetal alcohol damage is sometimes called Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). This term has fallen out of use and has been largely replaced by Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND), Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS) or Static Encephalopathy. These conditions can be equally damaging to babies but are rarely diagnosed. (To keep this simple, we’re going to call it all FASD.)
- Some experts estimate that about 1% of North Americans suffer from a fetal alcohol disorder – about four times as many people as those with AIDS/HIV. There are three to five times as many people with ARND as FAS.
- Since 1973, the medical profession has known that alcohol in pregnancy impedes fetal brain development, affecting intelligence, learning skills and behaviour.
- Persons with FAS have distinctive physical appearance and lower IQs, but have lower crime and addiction rates than those with ARND as they get earlier diagnosis and can be better protected by society and their parents.
- Individuals with ARND may look normal and have seemingly normal intelligence, but their damaged brains can result in learning disabilities, impulsivity, lying, stealing, tantrums, violence and aggression, inability to predict consequences or learn from experience, lack of conscience, and being highly addictive.
- Most people with ARND look perfectly normal and are never diagnosed. Research indicates that a high percentage of homeless people, and at least 25% of juvenile and adult offenders suffer from undiagnosed FASD.
Of individuals with ARND between the ages of 12 and 51,
- 95% will have mental health problems;
- 68% will have “disrupted school experience”;
- 68% will experience trouble with the law;
- 55% will be confined in prison, drug or alcohol treatment
centre or mental institution;
- 52% will exhibit inappropriate sexual behavior
Of individuals with ARND between 21 and 51 :
- more than 50% of males and 70% of females will have alcohol and drug problems;
- 82% will not be able to live independently;
- 70% will have problems with employment
- Some researchers estimate that each individual with FASD costs society approximately $2 million in his or her lifetime, for health problems, special education, psychotherapy and counseling, welfare, crime, and the criminal justice system.
- During their lifetimes, the individuals with FASD now alive in Canada will cost the taxpayers about $600 billion, about the same as the current national debt. In the U.S., they will cost the taxpayers about $6 trillion.
So-called, full-blown Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is easily recognizable because of the typical facial dysmorphologies caused by the presence of alcohol in the womb during the first trimester while the limbs and organs are being formed. When there are only slight facial characteristics or other non-dominant physical abnormalities, another diagnosis is known as pFAS or Partial FAS.
However, researchers have estimated that 8 out of 10 individuals who are struggling with FASD will have ARND (Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder) and will often have the most difficult lives because they are unlikely to be diagnosed. They often appear normal and will usually have all the behavioural characteristics of a normal child and their disability may not be recognized until they enter school, if then.
Diagnosis is difficult because it generally requires a team of trained professionals and these teams are few and far between. Knowledge of the birth mother’s drinking during pregnancy is the usual starting point and this can be very difficult to determine when there is no history, especially if the mother is deceased or the child is adopted.
FASD Diagnostic clinics are needed desperately in order for birth, adoptive and foster families to understand what they are dealing with and to help them to allow their children to be the best they can be.
More FASD info can be found at http://www.fasworld.com/fasd-facts/
The D. T. W. C. T. U. is a group of Christian women, pledged to total abstinence, united for prayer; organized for the preservation of the homes of the nation; the education of youth and children concerning the values of sobriety and the detrimental effects of alcohol and other drugs upon the human body (or upon the user); for the promotion of good citizenship and the principle of voluntary total abstinence from all harmful substances.
For more information and to become a member, click the ribbon or the Membership link.
Woman’s Christian Temperance Union – 53 Bishop Avenue
Toronto, Ontario – M2M 1Z4 – Telephone: 416-512-9032
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