The Nitty Gritty on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Most people are unaware of the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome. I thought it entails a period of withdrawal, but after that rough NICU time period, I didn’t know there was lasting effects. I also had considered if large amounts of alcohol were ingested, perhaps the child would be born with birth defects. I had seen pictures of children with severely deformed faces in college, and they were labelled as children with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Granted, it can be like that. A child can be born with effects so severe that they are clearly deformed.  That’s not how it usually is though. The writer of that article quoted their NHS (National Health Service) as saying, ” If you drink heavily during pregnancy, your baby could develop a group of problems known as foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Children with this syndrome have: restricted growth, facial abnormalities and learning and behavioural disorders.”

The truth is, you don’t have to drink heavily during pregnancy for your child to suffer the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol. Even a couple of glasses of wine on the “wrong day” during fetal development can have disastrous effects on that child for the rest of his life.

A child with FASD lacks reasoning skills and impulse control. Even if he knows something is wrong, sometimes he is incapable of stopping himself. He lies a lot. He lies for a couple of reasons.

First of all, with children that have FAS/FASD/FAE, when they get overstimulated or they are confused, they often and usually respond with a dysfunctional amygdala. Every little thing automatically turns into something that they deal with with a “fight or flight response.” So, sometimes, they will lie about something absolutely inconsequential because, even though he knows with his intellect that people will not harm them, they panic. Other times, they will lie to say simply what they feels people want to hear. They will also lie because they remember things wrong or they don’t remember anything at all, but don’t want anyone to realize they can’t remember.

Once a child with FASD loses his calm, the fight or flight switch isn’t on a dimmer. It’s on or off. It doesn’t matter who he is engaging with or what he is engaging with them about.

The disability affects every area of a person’s life. It causes weakened organs, and cognition and communication issues.  It affects relationships, growth, and health.  Statistically, a majority of people who are in prison show strong signs of having been prenatally exposed to alcohol. Also statistically, an adult with FAS has a slim chance of ever being independent. Far more likely outcomes are incarceration, homelessness and early death.

People have commented that women in history have often drank moderately while pregnant. That is true. And our history is rich with examples of people lacking impulse control and flying off the handle. Children were beaten into submission, only to in turn beat their own children into submission. I guess, I ask this: Is a “wild west mentality,” still acceptable? Are fist fights, aggression, impatience, stubbornness, criminal behavior, weakened immunity, insomnia, financial irresponsibility, chronic unemployment, poor sexual boundaries, and delayed emotional maturity worth women enjoying a cocktail or a couple of white zinfandels?



  1. Linda Q

    Wow, thanks for blogging about this. I see so many of the “other” types of articles around. I live with the consequences of someone’s drinking only this or only that, too. My 3 kids will suffer for the rest of their lives.

  2. Cassandra

    Wow this just perfectly described my youngest brother. He is adopted and his mother drank all during her pregnancy. So sad. And my ex-stepmother drank and did cocaine during her pregnancy and gave birth to twins that have physical defects as well. I just can’t understand being so irresponsible with someone else’s life! You can’t sacrifice and be healthy for JUST TEN MONTHS??? God bless these children.

  3. Valerie

    Very good and informative! We are raising our adopted daughter with FASD. I feel so bad for her for what she will have to deal with for the rest of her life! She is such a sweetheart when she is happy! Thanks for the blog. Keep up the good work.

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