The Effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Providence Medford Medical Center brought in a pediatric specialist from Seattle Friday to teach parents about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Specialist, Julian Davies, says when mothers drink alcohol, even moderately during their pregnancy, the child will likely have some form of the syndrome.

“It can affect a child’s growth, a couple of facial features, and most importantly their brain,” she stresses. Doctor’s say alcohol can damage the brain at any point during pregnancy. During the first trimester drinking could cause the baby to have deformed facial features, but drinking in the first few weeks could cause the most detrimental damage.

“Major organ systems and major brain structures are getting formed early in the first trimester and those facial features I was mentioning that’s maybe day 18 or 19 of a pregnancy.”

Doctor Davies says FAS first becomes noticeable during early childhood, “The average age that people come into my FAS clinic is around first or second grade because that’s when people sort of stop saying, ‘oh he’ll outgrow it’ and start to realize it’s a bigger problem.”

Bylle McCulley realized her child had a bigger problem thanks to explosive behavior cues. She goes to seminars to learn more about FAS and meet other parents, “It’s very isolating as a parent, to parent children such as this because they’re in a wheelchair in their brain but you can’t see the wheelchair so you don’t realize it as an outsider that they are in fact handicapped mentally.”

Doctor Davies teaches parents how to do their part for an FAS effected child during his seminar. She says, “You know, if I can’t change the child, how can I change the environment around the child or change my expectation in ways that they can be more successful?”

That potential for improvement and success gives parents like McCulley hope. “Being with other parents and professionals, you have hope because you see what’s working and not working.”