News / South Africa / Health
Dr Dulcy Rakumakoe
There is no amount of alcohol that’s known to be safe to consume during pregnancy. If you drink during pregnancy, you place your baby at risk of foetal alcohol syndrome.
Foetal alcohol syndrome is a condition that results from alcohol exposure during the mother’s pregnancy. The syndrome causes brain damage and growth problems.
The problems caused by foetal alcohol syndrome vary from child to child, but defects caused are not treatable or reversible.
If you suspect your child has foetal alcohol syndrome, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis may help to reduce problems such as learning difficulties and behavioural issues.
If you’re pregnant and can’t stop drinking, ask your primary care doctor or mental health professional for help.
Because early diagnosis may help reduce the risk of long-term problems for children with foetal alcohol syndrome, let your child’s doctor know if you drank alcohol while you were pregnant.
However, if your child has problems with learning and behaviour, talk with his or her doctor so that the underlying cause might be identified.
The more you drink while pregnant, the greater the risk to your unborn baby. Your baby’s brain, heart and blood vessels begin to develop in the early weeks of pregnancy, before you may know you’re pregnant.
Impairment of facial features, the heart and other organs, including the bones and the central nervous system, may occur as a result of drinking alcohol during the first trimester.
Any mix of physical defects, intellectual or cognitive disabilities, and problems functioning and coping with daily life.
Alcohol enters your bloodstream and reaches your developing foetus by crossing the placenta.
Alcohol causes higher blood alcohol concentrations in your developing baby than in your body because a foetus metabolises alcohol slower than an adult does.
Alcohol interferes with the delivery of oxygen and optimal nutrition to your developing baby.
Exposure to alcohol before birth can harm the development of tissues and organs and cause permanent brain damage in your baby.
There’s no cure or specific treatment for foetal alcohol syndrome. The physical defects and mental deficiencies typically persist for a lifetime.
However, early intervention services may help reduce some of the effects of foetal alcohol syndrome and may prevent some secondary disabilities.
• A team that includes a special education teacher, a speech therapist, physical and occupational therapists, and a psychologist.
• Early intervention to help with walking, talking and social skills.
• Special services in school to help with learning and behavioral issues.
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