Essay Preview: Fas
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One in every one hundred babies are born with fetal alcohol syndrome. The term “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome” is used to describe a lifelong set of physical, mental, and neurobehavioral birth defects associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Phyllida Brown writes in the journal, New Scientist, that, “Fetal alcohol syndrome was once thought to affect only the children of heavy drinkers”. She continues by stating that, “research suggests that even a small amount of alcohol can damage a developing fetus” (Brown, 2006). Overall, children born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) are “smaller than average and have a range of developmental and behavioral problems such as an inability to relate to others and a tendency to be impulsive. They also have distinctive facial features such as a thin upper lip, an extra fold of skin in the inner corners of the eyes, and a flattening of the groove between the nose and upper lip” (Walling, 2006).
In both articles there is a bad portrayal of healthcare in pregnant women who drink. Anne Walling writes that, “Maternal use of alcohol is considered to be a leading cause of birth defects and developmental delays in the United States”. Walling goes on to say that, “Prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to a range of adverse outcomes, referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders” (Walling, 2006). Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is a term used to cover an assortment of mental, physical, and behavioral effects that take place even without the distinctive facial features of FAS (Brown, 2006).
The public will hopefully find the information on FAS very helpful. It is only desired that those interested will gain knowledge from this and will relay this to pregnant relatives or friends. By doing so, it is anticipated that such a preventable disease will, in fact, be prevented. There might be some surprise in finding out that “the most common reasons for under diagnosis of FAS are a lack of awareness of maternal drinking history and a “lack of physician experience with the condition”. In relation to this, the number of cases of FAS is being reported to be about 5% to 20% of every 1,000 infants born (Walling, 2006). However thats only the number of reported cases, what about the cases that go undiagnosed because the physician has a lack of experience? Why is there even a lack of experience in the first place? Ann Streissgurth of the University of Washington believes that “as many as 1 in every 100 babies born in the US are affected by [fetal alcohol spectrum disorder]”; lets not forget that FASD is still FAS without the facial features. Streissgurth goes on to state that the figure for the number of babies born with the condition is “far more common thanDown syndrome, which affects 1 in 800 babies born in the US” (Brown, 2006).
After reading both articles I felt that both Walling and Brown did an excellent job in providing information to not just pregnant women and the public, but to physicians as well. Hopefully this will cause them to become more aware with a patients history in drugs and alcohol, especially if its a patient who is pregnant. I find it very disturbing to know that FAS goes under diagnosed because of “a lack of physician experience with the condition” (Walling, 2006). From what Ive read and learned it sounds like FAS is a preventable condition. So why isnt it being prevented? Perhaps Im being biased, but I cant see why a mother cant abstain from drinking for nine months. Is alcohol really so important that a mother is willing to sacrifice the health