Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

SED 343
James R. Thompson
December 1, 1998

This article contained shocking descriptions from delivery room
doctors and nurses concerning babies born with FAS. Because alcohol drunk
by a pregnant mother passes through her bloodstream to the placenta and into
the baby\'s bloodstream, and the fetal metabolism is fifty percent slower than
the mother\'s, the effects of the alcohol stay with the baby long after it does
with the mother. Doctors and nurses said that some babies are born smelling
of cheap wine, since they soaked in it in the mother\'s alcoholic amniotic fluid
before birth. Additionally, some babies are actually born drunk. As a result,
they need to be sobered and detoxified as soon as the umbilical cord is cut.
Even though these are two examples are extreme cases, they illustrate that
alcohol is a common chemical teratogen (a chemical that produces birth
deformities), and recent medical research confirms that fetal alcohol
syndrome is still the leading cause of mental retardation in children. With the
effects of alcohol ranging from mild to severe, there are actually two terms to
be known. First, Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), which is the broad and
encompassing term that accounts for mild to severe effects. FAS is actually
the extreme range of FAE, and it describes the worst problems that children
can get from prenatal alcohol exposure.

Blume, Sheila B. 1998. "Alcoholism in Women". Harvard Mental Health
Letter. pp 5-7.

The author of this article, Shelia B. Blume, M.D., C.A.C., is Clinical
Professor of Psychiatry at the State University of New York at Stony Brook
and Medical Director of the Alcoholism, Chemical Dependency, and
Compulsive Gambling Programs at the South Oaks Hospital in Amityville,
Long Island. Blume focused on alcoholism in the American society,
especially in regard to women, and the benefits treatment can do, not to
mention stopping FAS. According to Blume, women are physiologically
more sensitive to alcohol than men. The two reasons are that women\'s bodies
have a higher proportion of fat and a lower proportion of water, so that the
alcohol is less diluted when they drink. Also, a man\'s stomach secretes more
of an enzyme that breaks the alcohol down before it reaches the bloodstream.
As a result, it women are ever induced to drink as much as men, they will
have a higher rate of alcohol problems. Women now make up a third of
Alcoholics Anonymous, and some alcoholism programs have added all-
female therapy groups. Unfortunately, women with alcohol problems still
need better screening and access to treatment, and few programs provide
child care, or accommodate both mothers and children.

Burgess, Donna M.and Streissguth, Ann P. 1992. "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
and Fetal Alcohol Effects: Principles For Educators". Phi Delta
Kappan. pp. 24+.

This article defined FAS medically, it spoke of the prevalence of FAS,
the behavioral characteristics of FAS, and especially academic characteristics
and guiding principles for educational programs for FAS children. The article
mentions that if independence and productivity are the goals of education,
then the principles guiding instructional programs must be consistent with
those objectives. Children with FAS greatly benefit with early intervention
because it is important to begin early to guide the learning of appropriate,
functional skills and to decrease the occurrence of inappropriate behaviors.
Targeting functional skills, teaching communication skills, making choices,
and teaching social skills are all important aspects of teaching children with
FAS. In dealing with challenging behaviors, the article stressed that planning
ahead with an educational team better prepares the teachers for a challenging
situation, and the team will be more likely to behave consistently. This article
concluded with a list of detailed steps of what school districts can do to meet
the needs of FAS students which included prenatal alcohol and drug exposure
in the district health screening protocol, distribution and use of information
gathered from the health screening, the provision of educational opportunities
for district personnel regarding FAS, a referral system for students identified
as having possible alcohol and drug-related effects, and a district wide plan
meeting for meeting the needs of students with known or suspected effects.

Coles, Ph.D, Claire. 1994. "Critical Periods for Prenatal Alcohol Exposure".
Alcohol Health and Research World. pp.22-29.

According to this article, birth defects associate with FAS can vary,
depending on when during gestation the fetus is exposed, and how long the
exposure continues. The article also mentioned that in the first half of this
century, the placenta was considered a natural barrier capable of protecting
the developing child from exposure to harmful agents, including disease and
toxic chemicals. Researchers from the 950\'s found that certain diseases, like
rubella, and environmental agents, like mercury, were teratogenic. The risky
period was considered to be