How can FASD be prevented?

December 5, 2020

Crying is sometimes distressing but it’s one of the few ways for babies to communicate their needs.

Even when babies are getting the bes

To this date, no safe drinking limits during pregnancy have been established. Therefore, the most direct way to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to stop drinking alcohol.

Prevention strategies such as screening and brief interventions can help women of childbearing age who have problems with alcohol misuse. These interventions can be provided by individuals in health care and in other settings in which women receive services.  Involving the women’s life partners to provide support at home is useful but many women can reduce their alcohol consumption on their own with appropriate interventions.

What remains clear is that future parents and health care providers should be thoroughly informed and educated about the harmful effects of drinking during pregnancy.

lcohol consumption in women of childbearing age has maintained around 55% worldwide in the last 20 years, including roughly 11% of pregnant women who reported consuming alcohol in the previous month. Other research has found that 30% of women admit consuming alcohol at some point during pregnancy, and 8% report having had more than four drinks on one occasion. Although most women reduce their consumption once they find out they are expecting, many of them do not know about the pregnancy before the fourth or sixth week of gestation and continue drinking during that period. Although experts advice women to avoid alcohol during pregnancy or while trying to conceive, drinking continues to be reported by women perhaps due to persistent confusion about the effects of alcohol on fetal development.

Despite its entirely preventable nature, prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) remains the leading cause of congenital abnormalities, intellectual impairment, and other developmental problems in children. Complications due to maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy affect families and children from all ethnic and economic backgrounds.

One of the most severe birth defects caused by PAE is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). FAS is an enduring and irreversible condition marked by a set of distinctive facial traits (e.g., small openings to the eyes, thin upper lip, flattened area above the upper lip) as well as growth deficits and central nervous system dysfunction. On average, approximately 1 – 3 per 1,000 viable infants are born with FAS, and these rates increase to 10 – 15 per 1,000 in at-risk groups such as the foster care population.

Given that most children exposed to alcohol during the prenatal period do not exhibit all of these defects, the term Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) has been introduced in recent years to incorporate the range of deficits associated with PAE. The prevalence of FASDs in the general population is estimated at 5%a.

Aside from the direct devastating effects, prenatal alcohol exposure has on children and families, it also represents a significant financial burden for governments and communities. For instance, the lifetime cost for the care of one child with FAS is estimated at $2 million in special medical, health, and educational resources.

Does play-based learning help children academically?

Play-based learning, which encompasses free play and guided play, provides an excellent environment for fostering young children’s cognitive development.

Free play alone is not enough to promote academic learning. Indeed, the guided play seems to be the main aspect of playful learning that is required to make academic learning possible. It is used to teach specific learning goals in an engaging manner. Children will still be in charge and therefore in control of their actions during play, but the educators or parents will take an active role of guidance by preparing the environment such as providing certain types of toys, collaborating with children by sensitively responding to their actions in a play session and by offering open-ended suggestions in order for children to reach precise learning targets.

With its combination of child independence and adult support, the guided play has proven especially effective to support early learning of new content and skills in mathematics, reading, and critical thinking among others.

Play-based learning is a pedagogical approach that emphasizes the use of play in promoting multiple areas of children’s development and learning. Free play and guided play are two types of play-based learning. The former is child-directed and internally motivated, while the latter is supported by adults and geared at a specific learning goal. Although the play is a legitimate right in early childhood and one of the most natural pathways to exploration and learning, young children today are having fewer opportunities to play both at home and in school. The increased emphasis on school readiness has led early childhood programs to prioritize structured activities and testing at the expense of physically active, and play-based learning. However, this traditional learning approach has not necessarily proven effective, as it was found to reduce children’s motivation to learn and to negatively impact their attention and behavioral regulation. Considering that children learn best when they are mentally active and interact with materials in a meaningful way, play-based learning should become an inherent aspect of their home and school environment

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t possible care, they can cry for a long time.

Some infants can cry up to five hours a day, with the most crying peaking at six weeks and usually lessening by the fourth or fifth month of age. After five months, crying is more intentional and related to events taking place around them.

Parents may also take comfort in the fact that by reliably and consistently responding to their babies’ cries, they are building a strong child-parent bond.

Crying is an important means of communication available to babies during early infancy – that is from birth to three months of age. At this stage in their development, infants are almost entirely dependent on caregivers to meet their needs. Consequently,  infant crying can assume an important role in ensuring the survival, health and development of the child.

Increased crying among healthy infants in the Western world is now recognized in all infants in the first few weeks of life. This includes crying for prolonged periods of time for no discernable reason, a characteristic almost unique to the first few months of life. In fact, it isn’t unusual for a normal infant to cry from one to five hours daily, with a peak during the first two months of life.

In less than 5% of these infants is there ever evidence of organic disease to help explain increased crying behavior. Furthermore, prolonged crying takes place despite excellent parental care. Fortunately, after the age of five months, the increased prolonged periods of inconsolable crying decrease, crying becomes more intentional and is more related to events in the environment.

However, persistent crying, especially when associated with sleeping and feeding problems that continue beyond four months, often in the context of multiple parental psychosocial risk factors, can be a predictor of poor infant social and emotional development.