The Effect of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Topics: Pregnancy, Fetal alcohol syndrome, Brain Pages: 4 (1218 words) Published: September 8, 2010
The effect of prenatal alcohol exposure

Scientific Writing

June 2010

The effect of prenatal alcohol exposure


Alcohol is a drug with a depressant effect. Alcohol can negatively affect your brain, liver, central nervous system, and heart. The immediate effects of alcohol consumption are delayed reflexes and slurred speech. Since it is a depressant, alcohol slows down your brain. Consuming alcohol regularly can also lead to alcoholism. Alcoholism is a long-term chronic disease, it is when you a mentally or physically addicted to alcohol. Alcohol is a dangerous drug and should be consumed, if at all, under moderation.

A teratogen is any agent that can damage a fetus and therefore cause a birth defect. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous teratogens. There is no proven safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Every time a pregnant woman has a drink, the alcohol enters her bloodstream. It crosses the placenta and enters the fetus through the umbilical cord. So every time a pregnant woman has a drink, her baby does too! The blood alcohol level of the fetus is therefore equal to or greater than the blood alcohol level of the mother. Though the mother can break down the alcohol, the fetus’ underdeveloped body cannot. Thus, it maintains the blood alcohol level for much longer. You can imagine that fetus’ have a very low tolerance for alcohol.

Exposure to alcohol affects almost every part of a fetus’ body. The brain, face, ears, eyes, bones, kidney, and heart are all affected by alcohol. It causes blood vessels to constrict and disrupts the blood flow in the placenta. Oxygen and nourishment are thus prevented from entering the developing fetus. Cell deaths caused by alcohol cause different parts of the fetus to develop abnormally. The development of nerve cells is also affected by alcohol, which may impact the way the...

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