Friday, May 18, 2012

Foster Care Friday: Fetal alcohol syndrome

After deciding to become a foster parent, one of the first steps was taking the classes. They cover SO much in those classes. I actually really enjoy them! After taking them, and then taking some of them again to get re-licensed and to keep up with the hours of training I need each year, I’ve realized there is so much you don’t get until you experience it! I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, just interesting. I did not get how kids could be so delayed due to neglect until I had Chandler. I have never been more heart broken then hearing Ben’s hair drug test results. It’s all things you learn by experience. There are so many more things you learn along the way. I guess what I am saying is, I want to learn more and blog more about things I am leaning or want to know more about.

After we already said yes to our little guy, man, still no nickname for him… My husband’s vote is Clyde, he has never had his say before (Um, because his votes with previous placements have been “Ken” and “Dee” and other names along those lines) Okay, Clyde it is…. So we said we wanted Clyde. Then I asked more questions about the case. Our RFC told me they thought he might have fetal alcohol, but it was ruled out. I didn’t ask more about that because it wasn’t a possibility.

Then a week later I was visiting teaching and one of the lady I VT has also been a foster parent. She brought up fetal alcohol and I asked her, How do you know if a child has it? She told me there were facial features. I looked into online later and wanted to share…

What is Fetal alcohol syndrome?
Using or abusing alcohol during pregnancy can cause the same risks as using alcohol in general. However, it poses extra risks to the unborn baby. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it easily passes across the placenta to the fetus. Because of this, drinking alcohol can harm the baby's development. A pregnant woman who drinks any amount of alcohol is at risk for having a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. No "safe" level of alcohol use during pregnancy has been established. Larger amounts of alcohol appear to increase the problems. Binge drinking is more harmful than drinking small amounts of alcohol. Timing of alcohol use during pregnancy is also important. Alcohol use appears to be the most harmful during the first 3 months of pregnancy; however, drinking alcohol any time during pregnancy can be harmful.

Poor growth while the baby is in the womb and after birth
Decreased muscle tone and poor coordination
Delayed development and problems in three or more major areas: thinking, speech, movement, or social skills
Heart defects such as ventricular septal defect (VSD) or atrial septal defect (ASD)
Problems with the face, including:
Narrow, small eyes with large epicanthal folds
Small head
Small upper jaw
Smooth groove in upper lip
Smooth and thin upper lip

(more info here!)

Simian crease
A simian crease is a single palmar crease as compared to two creases in a normal palm. Simian crease occurs in about 1 out of 30 normal people, but is also frequently associated with other conditions such as Down syndrome, Aarskog syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome.

1 comment:

Other Mother said...

Thank you for mentioning this subject! I have a son adopted from the foster care system who has FAS, so we are living with this every day. There are a wide range of disorders that fall under the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders umbrella, and only Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has the recognizable facial features, but there as many as ten times the number of people affected by alcohol that do NOT have an FAS diagnosis. For children in foster care, the estimated number of children with FAS is 15/1000, which makes the estimate of all children in foster care with neurological effects from alcohol as 150/1000! In the average population it's between .2 and 1.5/1000. The neurological problems it causes are life-long. The brain is the organ that is developing through the entire nine months, and individuals affected by prenatal alcohol can have physical, cognitive, behavioral and social deficits. There is no proven safe amount of alcohol at any time during pregnancy, and the risks are not worth it, in my opinion!