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Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
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HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

Foetal alcohol syndrome is a condition where there are mental, growth and physical abnormalities in a baby when the mother drinks alcohol while she is pregnant. The cause of foetal alcohol syndrome is the use and abuse of alcohol while a woman is pregnant. Not every woman who drinks to excess has a child with foetal alcohol syndrome. In the same way, some women who drink just a little alcohol get a child with foetal alcohol syndrome. There is no safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink. If you think that your child's condition has worsened as a result of medical negligence, contact our foetal alcohol syndrome solicitors for advice at no cost.

The alcohol traverses the placental barrier and affects the baby throughout the pregnancy. Because it passes the placental barrier, the infant gets intoxicated and the developmental changes can occur. The more alcohol a woman drinks and the more binge drinking she does, the greater is the risk of foetal alcohol syndrome. Drinking alcohol causes the worst problems if consumed in the first three months of pregnancy but any time during the pregnancy is dangerous.

Symptoms of foetal alcohol syndrome vary from child to child but the following symptoms are possible. These include decreased muscle tone, poor coordination, poor control while the baby is in the womb that lasts after birth, delayed development, usually mental development, heart defects such as a ventricular septal defect or and atrial septal defect. The face is abnormal with low set ears, a small head, narrow eyes, small upper jaw a smooth groove in the upper lip with a smooth, thin upper lip.

Examinations of the baby can identify a baby with a heart murmur or morphologic features of foetal alcohol syndrome. The blood alcohol can be assessed in a pregnant woman if she is felt to be intoxicated during pregnancy. A CT scan or MRI scan of the brain can show abnormalities in a child with suspected foetal alcohol syndrome. An ultrasound of the womb can show slow growth of the infant.

The treatment of foetal alcohol syndrome is to get a woman into alcohol treatment as soon as she knows she is pregnant. It may mean inpatient treatment or very carefully planned outpatient treatment. The pregnancy and the pregnant woman need to be watched very carefully if alcoholism is found to be the case in pregnant women. There are support groups available to the pregnant woman associated with Alcoholics Anonymous or the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency.

The prognosis for a child with foetal alcohol syndrome depends on which symptoms they have and how severe the symptoms are. The changes to the brain and to the morphology of the face cannot be treated and the prognosis can be poor. The heart defects can usually be treated surgically. Behavioural strategies can be used if diagnosed early to change some of the behaviour of this disorder.

Complications of drinking alcohol during pregnancy include an increased risk of stillbirth or miscarriage. Preterm delivery is more likely if a woman drinks in pregnancy. Infant complications can include behavioural problems, heart defects, including holes in the heart, sudden infant death, mental retardation in the infant, poor growth before birth, problems in the morphology of aspects of the infant head and poor growth and poor coordination after birth.

Seek medical intervention if you are pregnant and drinking or if you know someone who is pregnant and drinking. If you are trying to get pregnant and have a drinking problem, you should seek treatment before you get pregnant and drink.

You can prevent fetal alcohol syndrome by avoiding alcohol while you are pregnant. Get treatment or counselling if you are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant and cannot stop drinking. Inpatient therapy before pregnancy may be helpful. If you drink heavily and don't want to get pregnant, be vigilant about using birth control until you have the ability to control your drinking behaviour.

Medical Negligence Solicitors

If you would like legal advice at no cost about claiming compensation for foetal alcohol syndrome just use the helpline, complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices and a specialist medical negligence solicitor will telephone you with no further obligation. Following a review of the circumstances of the injury and of the medical records you will be advised whether your child has a reasonable claim and if so, what steps you should take to protect your legal right to receive compensation. Our foetal alcohol syndrome solicitors use no win no fee arrangements to represent their clients which means that if your solicitor doesn't achieve settlement then he doesn't get paid his professional costs and the client does not receive a bill for legal costs.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here