What is the Connection Between Alcohol and Birth Defects?

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What is the Connection Between Alcohol and Birth Defects?

Surprisingly, one of the most potent poisons available may be sitting right in your kitchen cupboard. Alcohol is not just responsible for automobile accidents; there is a definite connection between alcohol and birth defects. Alcohol is responsible for severe damage caused at birth due to the mother’s drinking while pregnant. When a pregnant woman drinks, she drinks for two instead of one.  In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 8% of pregnant women reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. That number has declined over the years but presses the point on the value of quality inpatient treatment and the startling effects of fetal alcohol damage.

Types of Birth Defects

There are many reasons why alcohol has such a powerful effect not only on the human body but the developing fetus as well. The pregnant mother has a blood barrier that is quite thin to the placenta. The baby receives nutrition and other food sources through the placenta. The child also shares the effects of what is in the mother’s blood. As a result, even a tiny amount of alcohol can exacerbate itself across the placenta contributing to the consequences of alcohol and birth defects.

What is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)? Fetal alcohol syndrome is a broad term for birth defects, neurodevelopmental effects, and fetal alcohol effects.

Some of these neurological effects can include:

  • Impaired linguistic development
  • Growth deficiency
  • Lack of impulse control and judgment
  • Learning difficulties
  • Behavioral problems

Specific physical birth defects are also not limited to heart, kidney, bone, and auditory system problems.

For instance, the following effects of fetal alcohol exposure can include:

  • Small head size
  • Abnormal facial features
  • Low body weight
  • Short stature
  • Poor coordination
  • Sleep and sucking problems as an infant
  • Vision or hearing problems

Studies also show that as adults, these individuals have difficulties with social development, occupation, relationships, sexuality, independence, and increased risk of suicidality.  Fetal alcohol syndrome is not something a person simply outgrows.  In fact, the effects can be life-long.

No Known “Safe” Amount of Alcohol

The rate of alcohol consumption has slowly declined over the years, but only 40% of women make the realization of pregnancy at four weeks gestation. Critical organ and early development occur in the womb just before this phase. In fact, there is little known discerning on what constitutes a “safe” amount of alcohol. There is no safe amount of alcohol for consumption. The amount of use of alcohol also does not discriminate as easily. Surprisingly, a typical 12-ounce can of beer has the same amount of alcohol as a glass of wine or a shot of liquor.

According to a recent study at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, an imaging study exposed the neurological effects can often be predicted through specific facial features. The study shows that there is more than one pattern of birth defects that can be predicted at various phases during gestation. As a result, it takes a slight amount of alcohol to begin creating effects.

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Treatment Options for Alcohol Abuse

Patients who have a history of alcohol abuse or may be at risk should talk to a healthcare provider about specific inpatient treatment options.

Some of the benefits of inpatient treatment include:

  • Defined Structure and Stability:
    Goals and routines provide security and boundaries.
  • Social Atmosphere:
    Patients usually have access to peers and activities throughout the process for support.
  • Post-Care Focus:
    Most programs include a cognitive component that provides patients with the support to carry over after the inpatient procedure is finished.  Services provided include assistance with obtaining employment, locating sober-living facilities, arranging childcare, and obtaining transportation among others.

An inpatient facility offers patients a comforting, secure environment where they can relax and focus on healing.  At A Forever Recovery, our program is flexible, allowing patients an opportunity to create an individualized treatment plan.  For example, the options include group and individual counseling, skills training, nutritional guidance, relaxation techniques, music and art therapy, and much more.  The goal is to help patients heal mentally, physically, and spiritually.  In this way, lasting recovery is a reality.

Alcohol and Birth Defects Can Be Prevented with Inpatient Treatment

In summary, evidence shows that there is a strong correlation between alcohol and birth defects. There is often no prediction on what type of damage will occur, regardless of the quantity consumed. The effects are vivid and real. At the risk of effects of possible pregnancy, removing alcohol dependency is a smart preventive choice with high-quality inpatient treatment programs available.

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