Fetal Alchohol Syndrome

.. stract thinking, and limited problem solving skills. With all these problems they often have difficulty in holding down a job because of their unreliability, lack of social skills, and functional illiteracy. There are many different factors involved in fetal development in relation to FAS. The two things involved that stand out the most are teratogens and acetaldehydes.

These two stand out as the things that are not in a detailed way nutritionally involved. No laboratory tests can rule out the diagnosis of FAS but growing research is directed toward finding the underlying mechanisms that contribute to fetal alcohol damage. Scientists also are searching for genetic and biochemical characteristics associated with the susceptibility to FAS. Human gestation is divided into two major periods: the embryonic period (up to 8 weeks) and the fetal period (from 8 weeks to delivery). It’s during the embryonic period that various drugs are introduced directly into the maternal bloodstream or administered through the maternal diet.

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Chemical/Physical agents that produce these fetal malformations are called teratogens. Most teratogens show selectivity towards certain organs, based on the timing of the embryo to the teratogen, the dosage taken, and the sensitivity of the dividing cells. Organs and limbs of the developing embryo are formed from collections of specialized cells. Exposure of an embryo to a teratogen during this period may have devastating effect on the formation of that organ. (Michaelis and Michaelis, p. 17) The primary metabolic product of alcohol is acetaldehyde which could also produce some damaging effects. The reasons that this is looked at, but not as directly as is alcohol, is because of the following reasons; Alcohol is distributed rapidly and nearly equally in maternal and fetal tissues, Alcohol applied directly onto embryos in vitro conditions in which no acetaldehyde is formed causes growth retardation.

Because of this, these two mentioned factors are in effect causes indirectly, if not adversely directly, to the formation of the defects that are causes in the children of FAS. The nutritional aspect of FAS is not as simple. Normal growth and development during this priming period requires the transfer of a continuous supply of amino acids and glucose from mother to fetus. Several studies have shown that with the human placental tissue alcohol directly obstructs the transport of both these substances. These are two essential substances that, through research with rat embryos, have proven that the depravity of such causes malformations of fetal tissue’s energy sources. The materials needed for cell proliferation, growth, and differentiation are also affected in this.

The supplemental glucose thus becomes only minimally effective because of the lack of diminution of fetal growth retardation. (Michaelis and Michaelis, p. 21) Included within the nutritional deficiencies that occur are the loss of vitamins B6 and A. There is noted decrease in the transfer of B6 from an alcoholic mother to her fetus through the placenta. This vitamin is especially important in the development of the fetus because it functions as protein metabolism. There exists also a possible defect in the metabolism of folic acid.

The lack of which during the gestation period produces malformations in the fetus. The last vitamin deficiency that I will note revolves around the receiving of vitamin A from the alcoholic mother to the fetus via the placenta. There is no sufficient evidence to support that there is actually a vitamin A deficiency, but it appears that the vitamin accumulates in the liver of the alcohol-exposed fetus. This suggests that the vitamin is not being metabolized normally. Since this vitamin is supposed to normally produce retinoic acid, which is significant to development, it is a very vital ingredient in the nutritionally diet of the mother.

Retinoic acid functions as a chemical agent of the activation of DNA; The lessening of this particular vitamin is said what may be responsible for the delays and malformations seen in FAS. (Michaelis and Michaelis, p. 22) The release and production of hormonal factors are needed to be supplied to the fetus through the mother for normal development and this is yet another fact that is tampered within the mother who drinks throughout her pregnancy. The production and release of hormones from both the maternal and fetal glands and from the placenta influence the formation and development of tissues as diverse as the brain and the palate. In experimental animals exposed in the uterus to alcohol, there is a decrease in blood and brain concentration of the corticosteroid hormones.

the deficiency in said hormone leads to the failure in the response of a newborn to stress. Thyroid hormonal deficiencies are also have a harmful effect on the development of some tissues, especially the brain. In the cerebellum, a part of the brain controlling posture and balance, there is a change in the maturation and migration of nerve cells to their respective locations that is caused by the deficiencies linked to the thyroid hormone. (Michaelis and Michaelis, P. 19) Prostaglandins are local tissue chemicals derived from fatty substances.

There is a marked increase in the activity of these chemicals during the exposure that the fetus has to alcohol. These chemicals have very powerful affects on the blood vessels of the uterus, placenta, and the fetus. Their overproduction may be responsible for the lack of oxygen brought about by prostaglandin-induced constriction of the blood vessels. This lack of oxygen functions as a trigger for the cells in different tissues. This in turn leads to the aggravation of the preexisting hypoxia and could lead to tissue damage and growth retardation. The increased production and release of the substances that are produced by the prostaglandin and its developmental hypoxia can diminish blood circulation to tissues and set the stage for the cessation or delay in cell proliferation, growth, and migration.

(Michaelis and Michaelis, p. 16) There are many things that are factors in the growth and continual deformation in the babies born with FAS but there can be many or one simple thing that can also avoid the fetus to be affected by the exposure to alcohol. There continues to be ongoing research on the nutritional, hormonal, and cellular events regulating fetal development to help guide early interventions in children with FAS. There will always exist a continual risk because of the lack of education in mothers-to-be. The one thing most importantly stressed is that mother who knows or even thinks that she is pregnant should not drink anything that is made of alcohol. The educating of these mothers to the harm that they can cause themselves and their unborn children is what we need to do.

They should know that with the imbalance of their meals and alcohol consumption that their children are suffering and cannot at times be given that chance to live and survive in society as normal children should. Because of the lack of education that they have they do not understand that what they do to themselves is also what they do to their children. Medicine.


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