FASD: The Effects of Alcohol Use During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a stressful time for all those involved. Hormones, relationships, and preparing for baby put a strain on your body and mind. During and after pregnancy, taking care of your health is extremely important not only for you but for your child. That is why it is so important to abstain from use of drugs, which can do serious damage to you and your child.

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Alcohol is a highly dangerous substance to use during pregnancy. It can have serious effects on your baby’s development and well being after birth. There is no determined “safe amount” of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy. It is important that you have the facts so you can make the best choices possible for you and your child.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (or FASD) is a term used to describe a range of disorders commonly found in children with mothers that used alcohol throughout their pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), describes developmental, physical, and behavioural problems in children due to alcohol use/abuse by the mother during pregnancy. FAS is diagnosed by a team of healthcare professionals as the effects of alcohol on the child’s development can extend to several aspects. Some characteristics of FAS include: below average birth weight and height, thin upper lip, and function/structure abnormalities in the brain.

The diagnosis of FAS can occur before the age of 6, however, most children are diagnosed after the age of 6. There are many things that you as a parent can do to help your child if he or she is diagnosed with FAS. Seeking the appropriate medical attention and support is key in making sure your child can thrive. Making sure that she/he has the appropriate supports in school, daycare, and other care providers is also essential.

There can be a lot of guilt and shame associated with using alcohol during your pregnancy. It is important to be honest with your healthcare provider about any and all drug use during pregnancy. This honest can open up doors to treatment and recovery, as well as help you get connected to the right supports during your pregnancy.shutterstock_84089224

Abstaining from alcohol use during pregnancy is the only way to directly prevent FAS from occurring. There are several ways that you can abstain from alcohol use. They include: having people that support a sober pregnancy, removing yourself from situations in which you feel you may want to use alcohol, as well as seeking counselling and other programs that will encourage you to stay sober during pregnancy. Developing a support network that you can rely on is important not only for mothers in recovery, but mothers in general. Ensuring that you are doing everything in your power to stay healthy for you and your baby is the first step in becoming a successful parent.

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