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Thursday, January 27, 2011

FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME

Moderate to high consumption of alcohol during early pregnancy may cause specific alterations in pattern of morphogenesis, resulting in major and minor malformations, intrauterine and postnatal growth retardation. The greater the intake of alcohol, the severer are the manifestations. Incidence in European population is 1 to 2 infants with FAS/1,000 live births. Dysmorphogenesis and hence the manifestations may vary from mild to severe.

The various characteristics of the FAS may be summarized as follows:
  1. Prenatal onset and persistence of growth retardation postnatally;
  2. Facial anomalies such as short palpebral fissures, ptosis, microphthalmia, epicanthal folds, maxillary hypoplasia, micrognathia, and thin upper lip;
  3. Congenital heart disease (usually a septal defect);
  4. Minor joint and limb abnormalities, including abnormal palmar creases and restriction movements; and
  5. Borderline to severe mental deficiency and delayed development.
The modus operandi of excessive alcohol intake in causing FAS remains speculative. According to one hypothesis, alcohol interferes with placental transfer of essential amino acids and zinc, thereby causing IUGR.
Prognosis is poor.
Prevention lies in religiously eliminating alcohol consumption after the conception.

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