As most of my readers are aware I am the founder of Recovery Mummy, one of the things I offer is a play support group where the parents can get peer support and advice on living a healthy life in recovery. The great thing about play support is that babies and tots can come along and take part in sensory games, arts and crafts whilst the parents receive valuable peer support.
More information on Recovery Mummy can be found at – http://www.facebook.com/recoverymummy
I have been taking part in lots of training associated with the work I am doing and one of the courses I recently took part in was Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Training… Prenatal Damage and the Life Long Effects.
I sat down to begin training and it struck me…I actually didn’t have a clue about FASD!! I mean I knew that some babies were born with the condition and that babies would have withdrawal symptoms and needed to be monitored but I didn’t realise that it was a life long disorder. I thought that once the withdrawal symptoms had gone the baby would be fine…Yep I cant believe how naïve I was until I did awareness training.
New guidelines state that women are to avoid alcohol in pregnancy but If they do choose to drink, to minimise risk to the baby, the government’s advice is to not have more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week, and not to get drunk.
A few years back doctors and midwives would recommend pregnant women with low iron levels to drink Guinness and drink red wine for antioxidants.
When someone drinks alcohol it is filtered though the liver, it depends on the individuals body type and weight how long this takes however on average if you drink a large (250ml) glass of wine, your body takes about three hours to break down the alcohol.
An unborn baby has no functioning liver so they cant filter it themselves, it is thought that the unborn foetus lays in the alcohol fluid for 3 days.
Imagine the foetus as a raw egg…below is a picture of a raw egg in water (L) and another in Vodka (R)…after only 7 hours in the vodka the egg in Vodka has began to cook its self…now imagine it after 3days in the vodka.
What is Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder??
FASD’S are mental, physical and neurobehavioral impairments caused by women drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
- Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the leading known cause of learning disability.
- FASD and other alcohol-related birth defects are 100% preventable if a woman doesn’t drink during pregnancy.
- FASD can cause serious social and behavioural problems.
- Alcohol can cause more damage to an unborn baby than any other drug.
- There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
FASD is an umbrella term that covers Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND), Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD), Foetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) and partial Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS). Its effects range from reduced intellectual ability and Attention Deficit Disorder to heart problems.
FASD may not be detected at birth but can become apparent later in life and carries lifelong implications
A child can not be affected by FASD if the mother didn’t drink during pregnancy.
- Attention and memory deficits
- Difficulty with abstract concepts (eg maths, time and money)
- Confused social skills
- Poor problem solving skills
- Difficulty learning from consequences
- Poor judgement
- Immature behaviour
- Poor impulse control
- Smaller head circumference
- Heart problems
- Limb damage
- Kidney damage
- Damage to the structure of the brain
- Eye problems
- Hearing problems
- Specific facial characteristics, including a flat nasal bridge, upturned nose, thin upper lip and smooth philtrum (the vertical groove between the upper lip and nose)
There are 428 conditions associated with FASD.
Of all the FASD disorders FAS is the most recognisable…
FAS is characterised by the following anomalies
- Central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction
- Facia dysmorphology
- Pre- and post-natal growth deficiency
Below is an example of a doll with FAS:
Below is a chart of foetal development. As you can see it is never safe to drink alcohol during any stage of pregnancy.
Many cases of FASD go unnoticed as mothers are not asked about their alcohol consumption before finding out they are pregnant. Most women find that they are pregnant when they are around 4 weeks gone. So what if the mother went on a drinking binge not realising she was pregnant? Mothers are not asked about the weeks before so no record would be made of it thus making it harder to diagnose FASD later in the child’s life.
So as you can see FASD is more common than we think, FASD is a life long disability that requires on going care and understanding.
Its shocking to think that most health professionals don’t know much about it and therefore many infants, toddlers, adolescence and adults affected by FASD live in a world without support. I was also shocked to find out, that of all pregnant women, on average, the most educated women are those found to be drinking during pregnancy.
If this blog post has interested you and you would like to find out more about FASD please go to – http://www.nofas-uk.org/
If you would like to find out more about the training I received
Please email – Joanna@redballoontraining.co.uk
Website – http://www.redballoontraining.co.uk
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