This assignment will discuss and critically analyse maternal welfare, observing the effects of alcohol on the growing fetus.

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Debbie Jones        Perspectives of Child health        EY3004

This assignment will discuss and critically analyse maternal welfare, observing the effects of alcohol on the growing fetus. Firstly, the issue will be to identify ways in which consumption of alcohol affects pre and postnatal conception. Barnes and Bradley (1990) assert consumption of alcohol during pregnancy may have serious consequences for the fetus.  Furthermore, the importance of current health initiatives relating to fetal alcohol syndrome will be addressed, including preventable measures.

Barnes and Bradley (1990) emphasise alcohol travels through the blood stream to affect the sperm, egg and fetus.  Professor Kaufman 1988 (in Barnes and Bradley 1991,p.98) suggests “no alcohol in the preconception preparation stage for both partners”, and during pregnancy for the women. Similarly, Stroebe (2000) stipulate women should not drink alcohol for the duration of pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects termed fetal alcohol syndrome. Moreover, Beattie 1981 (in Williams and Booth 1985, p75) highlight social and constant heavy drinking especially in the first trimester of pregnancy can damage the normal growth of the fetus. In support of this Zieman (2004) assert drinking during the first trimester is the most serious, and babies exposed to alcohol at this most crucial time often have small brains and physical problems, what's more these babies can develop severe learning difficulties. Zieman (2004) additionally suggest alcohol crosses the placenta to the baby, where it accumulates in the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby before the birth and cause for the mother problems such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature birth. In support of this, Stroebe (2000) stress the most familiar effects seen are an increase in spontaneous abortions, commonly known as miscarriages.  Additionally, Stroebe (2000) goes on to say babies can also be born at low birth weight, birth length, and with a small head circumference resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure.

It is obvious that maternal and fetal healths are closely related to each other. Poor maternal health pre-existing maternal diseases and other general risk factors strongly influence the outcome of the pregnancy (Dietz and Brandrup-Likanow, 1993).  Some of the other effects caused by maternal drinking range from an increase in the number of stillbirths, decreased apgar scores at birth, an increase in the number of birth defects, increased developmental delays, decreased I.Q. scores, to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and an increased death rate. To support this Dietz and Brandrup-Likanow, (1993), state that low birth weight is a major contributing factor to infant and child mortality, due to mothers who have failed to achieve the optimum growth and development due to under nutrition, recurrent illness and chronic diseases in adulthood are more likely to give birth to low birth weight children.

 There is evidence to suggest that if a woman drinks two or more standard drinks each day the baby can be affected and grow slowly. If a woman drinks, six or more standard drinks each day the baby may have slow physical growth, poor coordination and movement and intellectual disability (fetal alcohol syndrome). According to, Hall (2003) substance misuse is present in approximately 20% of families and frequency is said to grow with falling prices and increasing consumption of alcohol. In addition, Hall (2003) evokes in today’s society it is said that 1 million children live with an alcoholic parent, this can put the child at risk of violence or neglect. Subsequently substance abuse can be both biological and social. Furthermore, in pregnancy it has been linked to cognitive and interactional difficulties, more severe problem such as small head size low birth weight. This in turn could bring about long-term effects of drug misuse on family social circumstances the parents ability to care for the child.

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Babies of women who are heavily dependent on alcohol can suffer withdrawal after birth. The symptoms can include tremors, irritability, fits and bloated abdomen. Moreover, Zieman (2004) evokes that the effects of FAS/FAE last throughout life. A baby with FAS/FAE may be irritable, nervous, and very sensitive to sound and light, the child may cry often. Furthermore, Mitchell and Brown (1991) state that it is imperative to have quality of life as a structure within early childhood services relates to recognition that the nature of environment can considerably increase or decrease the problems associated with young children. The problems ...

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