Weighted Blanket for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)  is a lifelong condition caused by the consumption of alcohol by mothers during pregnancy. This syndrome falls under the umbrella of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) which can cause a range of mild to severe physical and mental birth defects.

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most severe form among fetal alcohol spectrum disorders as this can cause problems with vision, hearing, cognitive development, communication and memory. Other types that fall under fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are partial fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder, alcohol-related birth defects, and neurobehavioral disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure.

Surveys conducted in the United States show that 20%-30% of mothers have consumed alcohol at some point in time during their pregnancy and that 4.7% of pregnant women are alcoholics. The risk of an infant developing the condition is higher depending on the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption by the woman during her pregnancy.

It is estimated that fetal alcohol spectrum disorders affect 2% toi 5% of people in Western Europe and The United States.

What are the causes of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

When a woman is unaware that she is pregnant, consuming alcohol during the early weeks of pregnancy can cause damage to the fetus. If the mother is a heavy drinker, there is a higher risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

A developing fetus in the womb cannot process alcohol the same way as adults do which can cause poor organ development and brain damage.

What are the symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

The infant with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome might have a variety of symptoms which include physical, developmental, and intellectual defects. The following symptoms commonly occur with individuals with FAS:

  • a smaller head size than normal
  • wide set eyes that are smaller in size
  • smooth philtrum (the groove between the upper lip and nose)
  • hearing and vision problems
  • congenital heart defects
  • kidney problems
  • deformed limbs
  • speech and learning difficulties
  • poor motor skills
  • intellectual disability

How is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnosed?

Since mothers are hesitant and reluctant to admit an accurate report of the quantity of alcohol they have consumed during pregnancy, diagnosis of the severity of the condition will depend on the child’s physiology and behavior.

Doctors base their diagnosis on the symptoms that are prevalent among individuals with FAS (poor growth, brain damage, facial characteristics).

How can Fetal Alcohol Syndrome be prevented?

There is no known safe amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The simplest way to avoid FAS is by avoiding drinking alcohol when you and your partner are trying for a baby and during pregnancy.

For mothers who have an alcohol problem, it would be best to seek out a doctor. The effects of drinking alcohol during the early stages of pregnancy can have a negative impact on the infant’s development.

What are the common complications that FAS sufferers may have?

These behavioral problems might be prevalent in some individuals with FAS:

  • Aggression
  • Inappropriate sexual and social behaviors
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Drug use
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • A tendency to break laws or test authority
  • Difficulty with school and peers
  • Early death due to accidents

How is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome managed?

Early diagnosis is the first vital step for FAS treatment. Though FAS is incurable, symptoms can be treated by different doctors and specialists to ensure that the child who has FAS will grow up to be a well-adjusted individual.

Though it may prove as a challenge due to lifelong learning and behavioral problems, children who are closely monitored by counselors and caregivers can help reduce the effects of FAS.

  1. Medication - some of the complications that occur with FAS include but do not limit to depression, hyperactivity, anxiety, and aggression. To counter these, the FAS sufferer may be given prescription medication to treat and address them.
  2. Behavioral Counseling - to help with combating aggression or difficult behavior, therapists can improve skills such as reasoning, understanding, and self-control. Counselors can aid children with FAS deal with their emotions.
  3. Parental, Familial, and Peer Support - parents can also seek out support groups to help them in dealing with the challenges this condition can cause. Providing a loving and caring home for a child with FAS. It’s best to let the child interact with his or her siblings/peers to help them develop social skills and learn how to deal with others.
  4. School Support - it is recommended that a special education teacher be provided for the child suffering FAS. The special education teacher will help with walking, talking, and social interaction.
  5. Specialists - A team of specialists can assist in the development of the child. Speech therapists can aid the child in early stages of development with regards to language acquisition and communication difficulties. Occupational and physical therapists are also recommended to aid in vocational and life skills training.
  6. Alternative Therapy - Aside from medical treatment, alternative practices to treat FAS are beneficial for the child. Healing practices such as massages, acupuncture, exercises and yoga are examples of activities that the child can be exposed to.

Medication and healing practices can be supplementary in managing behavioral problems. Another form of alternative therapy is by using tools to assist in daily routines.

An example of a non-invasive form of treatment is by using a weighted blanket to offer DPTS or Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation which can calm the central nervous system.

Miran Blanket is a weighted blanket with multiple 6” square pockets containing glass microbeads in polyester coating. With different weight options to choose from, it can soothe nerves and reduce movement, so the brain can release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which calm anxiety and improve a child’s mood.

It’s the perfect tool to add to a FAS sufferer’s routine to help them have a well-adjusted life.