The diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) in children is understood to mean a number of mental and physical defects, differing in combination and severity, the cause of which is alcohol abuse by the mother during pregnancy and before it occurs. The syndrome in children appears after birth and remains for life.
In many cases, the presence of FAS can be suspected immediately after the birth of the child, focusing on the growth and weight, as well as the size and shape of the skull. The meconium and hair of the newborn contain esters of fatty acids. For the final confirmation of the diagnosis, the specialists will have to conduct tests and observe the development of the child in dynamics for some time.
Diagnosis of the syndrome
To clarify the diagnosis, methods of neurosonography, MRI of the brain are used, allowing to accurately determine the structural disorders of the brain, the size of the cerebellum, the caudate nucleus. To exclude the presence of severe effects of FAS, it is recommended to conduct the following examinations:
- Ultrasound of the abdominal organs, kidneys;
- screening audiology survey.
To assess the psychomotor and intellectual development of the child, experts resort to using tests, widely used questionnaires. Children suffering from this syndrome are forced to constantly be observed by many doctors of different profiles:
- pediatric surgeon;
- a neurologist;
- ophthalmologist and others.
A child with a severe fetal alcohol syndrome may die in infancy in the presence of diseases and malformations incompatible with life
Manifestations of FAS are distinguished from changes caused by intrauterine infections and from chromosomal abnormalities, although all of the above can occur simultaneously in one patient.
Alcohol syndrome is diagnosed by the following criteria:
- small height and weight during intrauterine development and after birth;
- specific structure of the body, head, face;
- severe retardation in development, neuralgic pathologies.
To date, an experienced doctor can determine FAS by appearance. At the same time, diagnosis is difficult if the external manifestations of the syndrome are mild or absent altogether, which is typical for a certain number of patients. To confirm the diagnosis may require prolonged observation of the behavior and further development of the child. In addition, it should be noted that FAS can be combined with other diseases, including those caused by the abuse of alcohol by the parents of the child.
Classification of fetal alcohol syndrome
FAS is considered a major cause of mental retardation. This syndrome determines the whole life of a person and, naturally, leaves an imprint on his appearance. Anomalies can be traced in several areas:
- brain disorders;
- lack of height, weight;
- violation of the structure of internal organs, external genital organs;
- specific structure of the skull, a certain facial expression.
We present the classification of FAS according to the degree of impairment of physical and mental development.
- A mild degree is manifested by minor impairments in development, hidden or significantly pronounced signs of craniofacial deformity, in the impaired activity of the digestive system and accounts for 44% of cases;
- Medium degree – the symptoms are pronounced, you can determine the underdevelopment of the child by appearance. Makes up 34% of all cases;
- A severe degree is characterized by craniofacial dysmorphism, severe somatic defects, and gross violations of intellectual development.
Negative effects of FAS
Internal pathologies of intrauterine alcohol syndrome are diagnosed over time. Among them are both the congenital defects of individual organs, and diseases of the whole organism.
- heart defects;
- doubling of the urethra, other anomalies of the urogenital system;
- umbilical hernia;
- liver fibrosis;
- aortic stenosis;
- hearing impairment;
- vision problems;
Disturbances of the central nervous system are the most frequent signs of FAS. Alcohol, even in small quantities during pregnancy, causes mental disorders in babies without external developmental disorders. These features are detected immediately after the birth of the child. Newborns with FAS have difficulty sleeping, crying at times more than their peers. With age, the number of problems only grows.
So, children with fetal alcohol syndrome are different:
- mental retardation;
- problems with attention, poor memory;
- increased excitability, aggressiveness;
- nervous tick, stutter;
- uncontrollable behavior;
- hypersensitivity to alcohol.
As a result, children with this diagnosis are extremely difficult to fit into the team, study is given to them with great difficulty, they easily get into bad company and quickly drink themselves, often in places of detention.
Physical defects of children with FAS appear:
- small head;
- short, broad nose;
- narrow chin;
- small eyes;
- cleft lip or underdeveloped lips;
- low protruding ears;
- undescended testicles in boys, large labia in girls;
- shortened foot, fingers;
- lack of an anus;
- bone anomalies.
Such children in most cases require the services of special teachers, life-long medical support, assistance from social workers. Usually, due to the peculiarities of physical and intellectual development, they are poorly adapted to independent living, are poorly taught, and, as mentioned above, are at risk. Due to prenatal alcohol intoxication, the likelihood of developing alcoholism is very high, and the predilection for alcoholic beverages arises instantaneously and even after minor alcohol consumption.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Treatment
Changes caused by FAS are irreversible. Unfortunately, since it is impossible to fully recover, only symptomatic therapy is carried out. For example, for heart defects and other disorders in the structure of internal organs, surgical intervention is carried out whenever possible. Psychiatric disorders are dealt with by a child psychiatrist, prescribing psychostimulants, neuroleptics, and other drugs that are designed to correct behavior, eliminate aggression and
Rehabilitation of children provides for medical and pedagogical correction, so the education of children is carried out in special schools. Increased attention, the correct approach of specialists and special techniques allow the child to achieve noticeable results in mental development, to adapt to society. Under the guidance of specialists, children improve their speech, physical ability, and emotional stability appears.
It should be noted that a child with severe FAS may die in infancy in the presence of diseases and malformations incompatible with life.
Statistics show that children with FAS are often unnecessary to their parents. This is due to the fact that they, as a rule, are initially born in dysfunctional families of alcoholics, and the fact that young parents are frightened by the difficulties of learning about the baby’s diagnosis and reject it. The childhood of FAS patients takes place in specialized children’s homes, psycho-neurological boarding schools. In the future, they are rarely taken by society, but they themselves often cannot take care of themselves on their own. Although we note, the degree of social adaptation depends on the severity of the syndrome. At the same time, even mild forms of FAS contribute to the emergence of asocial behavior, alcoholism, and sexual deviations.
About the dangers of alcohol on the female body and the development of the fetus talk from school, warn obstetricians and gynecologists during pregnancy. It would seem that there is nothing more obvious than giving up alcohol for the period of conception and carrying a child. But the presence of children with FAS suggests otherwise. Therefore, we repeat once again:
FAS can be prevented by complete abstinence from alcohol at least one month before conception planning and throughout pregnancy.