Pregnancy can be an incredible time, as a women becomes more in-tuned with herself and her health in order to promote the overall wellness of her unborn baby. However, alcohol abuse during pregnancy can become daunting, traumatic, and dangerous for both the mother and unborn child. Not only is the mother at risk for serious health problems, but the unborn fetus is also at risk for some serious complications, including:
When a pregnant woman consumes alcohol, it has the ability to pass across the placenta- the placenta being an organ that provides oxygen and nutrients for growing unborn babies. Therefore, risks listed above are just some of the many health complications that can directly result from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
One of the most common forms of FASD is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). FAS is characterized by three main abnormalities. These three areas include growth deficiency, central nervous system dysfunction, and facial abnormalities. People with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome often have vision, hearing, attention span, and memory problems, and they often struggle to learn and communicate. Defects do vary from one person to the other, but the damage is almost always permanent.
According to report released by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in February of 2016, up to 1 in 20 school children in the United States may have FASDs. This means that as many as 2-5% of U.S. children suffer from one of these disorders on the spectrum.
Whether a child suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome, partial fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol-related birth defects, alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder, or a neuro-behavioral disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, the consequences can be severe. The only way to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders is to avoid alcohol during pregnancy.
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Most mothers do not intend to put their unborn child at risk, but they simply cannot get the help they so desperately need. Fortunately, treatment is available for pregnant women struggling with alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.
There are a variety of treatment options for women who struggle with alcohol abuse during pregnancy. Alcohol dependence is typically treated through a comprehensive rehabilitation process that includes detoxification, followed by psychotherapy and relapse prevention programs.
Other treatment options and interventions include:
- Support groups and 12 step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps mothers affected by alcohol abuse during pregnancy cope with their reality and adopt new, more positive thought patterns and behaviors.
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy encourages people to use their own resources to make behavioral changes
- Pharmacotherapy, which employs the use of medications to help reduce cravings while also still keeping the unborn child safe.
If you are pregnant and in need of treatment for alcohol abuse or addiction, consult your doctor to determine if rehab is your best option. Then, speak to an addiction specialist and explore your options for treatment, It’s important to find a facility that caters to your specific needs and provides the expert medical care you’ll require during rehab. The sooner you begin treatment, the better chance you and your child have of living a healthy, happy life.