Mothers of children born with the often devastating effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or FAS don't have to be alcoholics or even regular drinkers in order for this condition to develop. There are certain windows during a pregnancy where the developing fetus is more susceptible to damage – especially during the first trimester. This means that fetal alcohol syndrome can develop even if a woman only has a few drinking occasions during this time. And while there is no distinctive evidence to suggest this, some scientists and biologists suspect that FAS could develop in response to only one drinking event, if it occurs during a time of critical fetus development. As a result, it is never safe to drink while pregnant, and mothers that do could be damaging their child – for life.

The symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome are varied but distinct to the condition – especially where physical deformations are concerned. Babies born with FAS have a small head circumference, small eyes and thin lips. There may be deformations of joint areas like elbows, knees, the heel and wrist, etc. The child may exhibit vision of hearing impairment and have poor coordination. While many of these conditions are clearly evident upon birth or shortly thereafter, some might not appear for years. This is especially true of children that are born with mental retardation, learning disorders and delayed development as a result of fetal alcohol syndrome related complications.

Some of the symptoms of FAS may occur later in life and not be recognized for what they are from a causation standpoint. This can include something as seemingly benign as poor coordination, or something as deadly as heart defects. Additionally, FAS can cause a child to exhibit abnormal behavior patterns later in life. This is often manifested in the form of ADD, ADHD, poor impulse control, severe nervousness, social anxiety and even panic attacks.

Alcohol is considered a Teratogen; a substance that impedes or even completely restricts human growth. This has implications not only for the growing fetus, but also for developing young women. This can present in the form of delayed development including problems adjusting socially, academically and occupationally, which can make it extremely difficult to care for an infant. And because the most noticeable characteristic of FAS is significant deformation of the face, this condition is rather apparent when it is present, leading to more social and anxiety issues for the mother initially and for the child later on as they integrate into their peer groups and communities. These facial characteristics include very small, wide-set eyes, a thin upper lip, upturned, stunted nose, and other features indicative of the condition. In some cases the features will fade away as the child gets older, but in many they will remain for life.

Because of the sensitive timing of pregnancies and fetus development, it is never acceptable to drink while pregnant. The old social stigma that children born with FAS must logically have severely alcoholic mothers is swiftly disappearing, thanks to better education about what this condition is and how it develops. If you or someone you love is pregnant and struggling with a drinking or drug problem, then 2 lives depend on what you do next.

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Author's Bio: 

Kasandra, writing under an assumed name, is an internationally recognized editor and publicist who has brought to life countless literary creations. This includes article writing, script writing and more.