Pregnancy: the Effects of Alcohol and Substance Abuse on Fetal Development

4523 Words Mar 13th, 2013 19 Pages
Pregnancy: The Effects of Alcohol and Substance Abuse on Fetal Development
Natalie Fontanella
Liberty University Online

This paper examined the effects of alcohol and substance abuse on fetal development in expecting mothers. The critical periods of fetal development during pregnancy are reviewed and discussed in order to determine the effects alcohol and substance can cause during certain stages. In order to gain a more efficient understanding of the effects different substances can have on fetal development the following substances were studied: (1) alcohol, (2) cocaine, (3) opioids, (4) nicotine (smoking), and (5) cannabis sativa (marijuana). Each substance (previously listed) examined was provided with supporting
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The following areas will be covered in this section: (1) fetal exposure to alcohol, (2) fetal exposure to cocaine, (3) fetal exposure to opioids, (4) fetal exposure to nicotine, and (5) fetal exposure to cannabis sativa (marijuana).
Fetal Exposure to Alcohol When expecting mothers consume alcohol they are immediately putting their fetus’s health at risk. Essentially they are leaving their fetus susceptible to not only structural deformities, but also a variety of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) (Feldman, pg.76, 2011). Out of all of the FASDs, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most common. Statistics indicate that over “0.33-2.9 cases per 1,000 births have FAS” (Cohen & Inaba, 2007). FAS typically results in the fetus developing the following problems: (1) severe abnormalities in physical, neurological and behavioral functioning and development, (2) severely reduced weight and cranium size, (3) deformities of the face and other body parts (otherwise known as dysmorphia), and (4) are at higher risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (Feldman, pg.76, 2011). In essence exposure to alcohol can significantly affect a fetus internal and external body structure, can cause neurological and behavioral abnormalities, and even physical deformities. Research Kenneth Jones (1986) supports this assumption through his studies on FAS. Jones (1986) findings suggest that FAS effects

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