About Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
Foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a pattern of abnormalities with a child caused by exposure of alcohol to an unborn baby. Alcohol is known as a ‘teratogen’ or something from outside the body that can cause complications for the unborn baby. When alcohol is consumed during the pregnancy it gets into the mother’s blood and crosses via the placenta into the baby’s blood. As alcohol is a toxic substance it can cause problems with the baby’s growth and development. Foetal alcohol syndrome occurs between 0.5 and 5 in every 1000 births. The only predisposing factor is alcohol consumption. The foetus is most at risk during the earlier stages of pregnancy with greater amounts of consumption linked to greater complications with the unborn child.
Signs and symptoms of foetal alcohol syndrome
Foetal alcohol syndrome has a number of associated features. The key features include:
- Changes in physical appearance such as small eyes and flat lips.
- Decreased birth weight and size of the infant due to problems with growth
- Delayed development leading to poor learning ability
- Problems with concentration, coordination, emotion regulation, speech and social skills.
How can a speech pathologist help?
A speech pathologist is involved in assessing and monitoring the child’s speech and language development. This is important to ensure that the child has the age appropriate language skills he or she needs to keep up with the day to day social and learning requirements at school and at home. Treatment can target common areas of speech and language such as speech sound production through to higher level language and social skills training. Therapy is individually tailored to suit the needs of the child depending on their diagnosis and requirements.
This article was written by speech pathologist Ashleigh Fattah. For more information about foetal alcohol syndrome or any speech related topic, contact ENT Clinic and make an appointment with one of our speech pathologists.