Effects of alcohol consumption to the fetus during pregnancy.
Consuming alcohol during pregnancy has many harmful consequences to a fetus. As many as 12,000 infants are born each year with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), a disease solely caused by the exposure of the fetus to alcohol during pregnancy. All cases of FAS are 100 percent preventable "if the mother does not drink while pregnant, the child cannot be afflicted with FAS. While there is only one cause for the syndrome, much potential damage can be caused to the child: physical abnormalities, mental disabilities, and social and behavioral problems.
Physical abnormalities are the most obvious effect of the alcohol on the fetus.
Skeletal deformities can be caused by bone malformation during fetal development, resulting in deformed ribs and sternum, or a curved spine. Sometimes the child has bent, fused, webbed, or missing fingers and toes. Facial deformities are one of the main characteristics used for diagnosing the disease at birth. FAS infants typically have small eye openings, droopy eyelids, and are nearsighted. They often have a flat or absent groove between the nose and the upper lip, or just a very thin upper lip. Low-set or poorly formed ears are a major hallmark of the syndrome. The organ deformities from exposure to alcohol range from moderate to life-threatening. Heart defects and heart murmurs are not uncommon due to malformation during development. The genital malformations can result in sexual dysfunction. Beyond that, kidney and urinary tract defects can cause serious health problems throughout life.
While not as immediately obvious, mental disabilities are another serious effect of FAS. These occur because of abnormal prenatal brain development caused by exposure to alcohol. Learning disorders are just one of the effects. FAS victims tend to have lower than normal IQs and delayed language development. They often have poor memory retrieval and poor comprehension of abstract concepts.