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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome - With A Free Essay Review

FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROM; Jeremy Beard; English - Days; 12 March 2012; Mrs. Thorjusen


Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders affect approximately 40,000 newborns every year. The Disorders cause symptoms from mental and physical retardation to severe health problems. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are one hundred percent preventable, one hundred percent irreversible and one hundred percent detrimental to an individual who is unfortunate enough to be born to an alcoholic. The disadvantages will typically never be overcome, and eighty percent of the individuals born with these unfortunate disorders will never even know their birth family. Many will end up miss diagnosed and miss treated and some will end up incarcerated. As well as the damage caused to the child for its life, there is the cost shouldered by the public to take care of these individuals which can range from $2,000,000.00 to $5,000,000.00 over a life span.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Why would anyone intentionally put their child at a lifelong disadvantage? Every year, approximately 40,000 babies are born with symptoms of prenatal alcohol exposure (Lupton, 2003). The birth defects can range from physical defects to behavioral issues, as well as mental retardation, and be from mild to severe. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is one hundred percent preventable; which has an outcome that is one hundred percent irreversible with a life time of consequences for the child. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a disorder passed directly from mother to child. The causes are alcohol addiction and ignorance, a very simple prevention method is successful prenatal counseling. The lack of comprehensive prenatal education and advice yields the long term effects of FAS: The financial impact of caring for a child born with FAS is extremely high and is primarily shouldered by the public. Typically, the maternal mother does not even raise the child; the child more than likely will end up in foster homes or state facilities from birth to death.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, as well as fetal alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) causes a group of illnesses that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during her pregnancy. FAS and FASD are very often miss diagnosed and never treated properly which can in turn lead to further complications. The hardest condition to diagnose is mental retardation, this usually cannot be detected until the child is at an age where testing can be performed for IQ and cognitive responses, through a battery of assessments ranging from simple to complex. Only after professional assessments have been administered can definitive diagnoses be formed regarding FAS/FASD. Some of the characteristics of mental retardation are learning disabilities in the pre-school years. In the primary school years obvious signs become more prevalent such as poor attention span, hyperactivity, poor motor skills, and slow language development (Seaver, Odle & Davidson, 2007). The child may be identified as ADHD or mildly retarded without knowledge of family history (Seaver, Odle & Davidson, 2007). Family history is hard to get for those in adopted or foster homes; even mothers who keep their child will tend to lie about her abuse of alcohol while pregnant. Some of the mental delays are trouble encoding memories, visual and spatial difficulties as well as trouble with math concepts (Beck, 2012). Some of the other disorders associated with FAS are poor reasoning, poor judgment skills and impaired impulse control (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). Besides the mental delays there are usually visible physical retardations associated as well. At birth a child with FAS will have low birth weight, distinctive facial features, including small eyes, an exceptionally thin upper lip, a short upturned nose and a smooth skin surface between the nose and the upper lip (Mayo Clinic, 2011). In addition to facial abnormalities, individuals with FAS can also have small heads, small brain size, joint, fingers and limb deformities, poor coordination as well as mild to severe heart defects. However; some of these features can occur in normal healthy children and determining that these conditions are caused by FAS should be left to an expert (Mayo Clinic, 2011).

Of Course, simple counseling of mothers about the effects of drinking while pregnant and the serious repercussions to the child should be enough to avoid FAS/FASD altogether. Unfortunately it is not for tens of thousands of children born every year with this unfortunate, terrible disorder. The facts are consumption of alcohol daily will increase the chance of FAS/FASD as well as so many other illnesses. “There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe to drink while pregnant” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). “There is also no safe time to drink during pregnancy and no safe kind of alcohol to drink while pregnant” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nd). The only way to be sure to prevent a child from being born with FAS/FASD is to stop drinking altogether. If trying to get pregnant or even if mistakenly pregnant stop drinking. A child does not stand a chance of a normal healthy existence if the mother has little or no regard for the child’s health enough to abstain from drinking for the term of her pregnancy. According to the surgeon general, as early as 1978 FAS/ FASD warnings about drinking alcohol while pregnant were made known to the general public (Golden, 2005). In fact, the Surgeon General says that zero amounts of alcohol consumption are the only safe amount to prevent FAS (Golden, 2005).

As a result of poor education or merely the lack of taking responsibility for ones actions while pregnant, presents an outcome of a child born with disorders that are extremely costly to public. Every year, those 40,000 babies which are born with symptoms of prenatal alcohol exposure become a huge burden on the tax paying public (Lupton, 2003). According to the FASD centers for excellence, published reports dated 2002; the approximate cost is $2,000,000.00 per individual for a life time of support (Lupton, 2003). The costs to the public as of 2002 breaks down as $1,600,000.00 per individual for medical treatment, special education, and residential care for persons with mental retardation (Lupton, 2003). Another $400,000.00 per individual in productivity losses to society which can never be recouped (Lupton, 2003). These reported estimates do not include the costs of medical services for physical anomalies, such as visual, kidney, genital tract problems, dental and skeletal defects, anesthesiology services and some physician cost during the first year of hospitalization (Lupton, 2003). Not to mention the costs to the public for welfare payments to the family, social security disability payments for life to those considered permanently disabled, for services for mild physical and learning disabilities, or criminal justice for people with FAS/FASD (Lupton, 2003). The costs continue to rise and some of the latest estimates adjusted for inflation dated 2010 are between $2,000,000.00 and $5,000,000.00 per individual (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). Additionally, “It is reported that up to 80% of Children born with FAS/FASD do not stay with their birth families due to the high needs of parents and children” (National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, nd). Long term care and even incarceration (costs approximate $20,000 annually) continues to add to the already high cost of care for these individuals left up to the public to pay.

In conclusion, the simple truth about FAS/FASD is that these Syndromes are one hundred percent avoidable, one hundred percent irreversible, and one hundred percent caused by pure negligence. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are passed from an abusive mother to her child and the effects are for life. This disabling syndrome caused by the abuse of alcohol even in as little as few drinks a week, can result in an individual with many health issues, physical disabilities, and mental disorders for life. A mother who may be an alcoholic can get treatment for her addiction, but the child will never have a normal existence. In a perfect world children would only be born to parents who want them, cherish them, and would give them every advantage to thrive and succeed. They would be happy healthy children, as well as productive and responsible adults: If only we lived in a perfect world.


Beck, M. (2012, January 24). Stricter Thinking on Alcohol During Pregnancy.

Wall Street Journal (Online). Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011, September 22). Facts about FASDs. Retrieved from

Golden, J. (2005). Message in a Bottle THE MAKING OF FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Lupton, C. (2003). The Financial Impact of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved From

Mayo Clinic (2011, May 21). Fetal alcohol syndrome. Retrieved from

National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (nd). FASD: What the Foster Care System Should Know. Retrieved from

Seaver, L., Odle, T. & Davidson, T. (2007). Understanding Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: An

Overview of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Belmont, Ca: A.M. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine.

U.S. Department of health and human services, Substance abuse and mental health services administration; Center for substance abuse prevention. (2009, October 30). The Language of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorders. Retrieved from



The tone of the essay is inconsistent, and I think that is because its purpose is not clear. One purpose of the essay seems to be to provide more or less scientific information about the causes, effects, and treatment of FAS and FASD. Another purpose seems to be to persuade the reader to feel bad about the existence of the FAS and FASD. Another purpose seems to be pass moral judgment on women who drink alcohol during pregnancy. And another purpose, although you devote only one sentence to accomplishing it, is to tell the reader not to drink alcohol in the event of pregnancy.

Your way of accomplishing the first purpose is to present the results of research. Doing that establishes a certain academic, even scientific tone that is, unfortunately, completely at odds with the tone introduced by your attempt to accomplish your other purposes. One would never find an author of a scientific article, for example, asking his reader, "Why would anyone intentionally put their child at a lifelong disadvantage?" - at least not when the question is intended to be rhetorical, as it is in your essay. So if your purpose is to write something like a science paper, I suggest you drop the rhetorical questions, the moralizing, and the attempt to elicit your reader's sympathy for those who suffer from the disease, and just deal with the scientific questions: Again, what causes the disease? What are its effects? What can be done about it? You can leave it up to your reader to decide how she or he wants to feel about the children and the mother. (If your intention is rather to write a condemnation of tequila-slamming moms, then make that the focus of your essay from the outset.)

One good reason for separating your academic treatment of the subject from your moral and emotional treatment is that the latter can interfere with the appropriate completion of the former. If your soul rebels in moral indignation against the very thought of a pregnant woman having a drink, and if your heart melts simultaneously at the thought of the poor children, your more likely to ask "Why would anyone intentionally put their child at a lifelong disadvantage?" as a purely rhetorical question since your heart and soul already know the answer: its irresponsibility, and selfishness, or something evil. You end up saying things like "these syndromes are ... one hundred percent caused by pure negligence. [They] are passed from an abusive mother to her child and the effects are for life." That's a good way to talk if you are out having a few drinks with your friends at the pub, but it doesn't belong in an academic essay. As everyone knows from personal experience, humans are complex beings, and do all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons. There are usually multiple causes of even a single act. (That’s called overdetermination). If you are a talk radio host or a politician or a bar fly, you can pretend that such complexity doesn't exist, but the point of writing essays in an academic setting is to tease out the complexities, not ignore them. So instead of rhetorically asking "why would anyone do that?" undertake some research to find out why people actually do that.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: JEREMY BEARD

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