Consider how foetal alcohol syndrome has effects on an individuals development across the life span.
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioural, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. The alcohol passes through the mothers blood and enters the fetus, including the brain, face, heart, liver, kidneys, eyes, ears and bones. These effects can affect a person's health for a lifetime.
The effects of FAS vary widely from person to person. Difficulties in an individual's ability to succeed at home, school, work, and in social situations may develop at different ages. For many people with FAS, brain damage is the most serious effect. It may result in cognitive and behaviour problems. One obvious sign of brain damage in some babies born with FAS is a small head.
Individuals with FAS may have facial anomalies such as small eye openings, a groove under the nose, and a thin upper lip. When a person has all three features, together they're a sign of FAS. Other features, sometimes seen in persons with FAS, include a short nose, a flat mid-face, or small upper jaw. However, people who do not have FAS can also have these features, so they are not be themselves a sign of FAS.
Due to damage by exposure to alcohol in the womb, babies with FAS may be born small and underweight. Some have difficulty nursing or eating and their growth continues to delay, resulting in failure to grow. Some infants with FAS may also have tremors, seizures, excessive irritability, and sleep problems.
Physical effects of FAS may include heart defects, such as a hole in the wall of the heart that separates its chambers. Other effects are skeletal defects, such as fused bones in the arms, fingers, hands and toes. People with FAS may also have vision and hearing problems, kidney and liver defects, and dental abnormalities. Alcohol can damage the developing fetus from the earliest weeks through the end of the pregnancy.
Other factors associated with women who drink during pregnancy are poor nutrition and lack of prenatal care. These factors may also affect organ and skeletal development. Researchers still have many questions about the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure.
FAS can effect the emotional development of a child also. Often, a child with this condition will have either an under-aroused or over-aroused central nervous system, so they have problems with integrating, organising and processing sensory information and developing an appropriate social response. Hearing or touch may be overly-responsive to input while smell, taste or balance may be less sensitive than normal. These sensory problems may lead to emotional instability, hyperactivity, behavioural disorganisation and learning problems.
Children with FAS have problems with learning and attentions, this can lead to antisocial behaviour and aggressiveness. As little as one drink a day can lead to an increase in aggressiveness in children aged six to seven. Another behavioural abnormality with children with FAS are social problems. “Specific difficulties included inability to respect personal boundaries, inappropriately affectionate, demanding of attention, bragging, stubborn, poor peer relations, and overly tactile in social interactions” (Phelps, 1995, p.206)
Most children will have some attachment issues in that they will have difficulty in forming meaningful relationships and displaying affection appropriately. This becomes very difficult in adolescence when they may be looking for or have a sexual relationship. They can have the inability to determine right from wrong, and they sometimes do not learn from the consequences of their actions.