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By Fathimath Afaaneen Nafil Published on 23/09/2020

Ninth Day of the Ninth Month: What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)?

Be glad you were born with a normal philtrum
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Fathimath Afaaneen Nafil

Published on: 23/09/2020

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
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September 9th is FASD day and I thought to myself whether it is relevant in a Maldivian context. While alcohol is federally and religiously prohibited, it is no secret that there is a market for alcohol consumption right here in this country. We cannot control each individual’s actions but we can promote public awareness and hope that said individuals make good choices.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a group of conditions that can occur in an offspring whose mother had consumed alcohol during pregnancy. Some of these conditions can be characterized and seen physically and others are more cognitive, behavioral or intellectual.

A set of prominent characteristics a person with FASD may have include abnormal facial features, small head size, shorter than average height and problems with heart, kidney or bones. One distinct facial feature that FASD babies have are their flattened or smoothened philtrum. A philtrum is the ridge above your cupid’s bow and below your nose bridge. 

Always remember, becoming aware of these disorders do not mean you get a free pass to torment your friends and colleagues about their alleged alcohol consumption.

Alcohol, like many other illicit substances, can pass through the umbilical cord to the fetus. Ladies of child-bearing age should particularly be careful about what they take in their body. The umbilical cord is not the only passage for such. While we celebrated World Breastfeeding Week in August, it crossed my mind that breastfeeding not only passes on the good and kind antibodies that saves your children’s life but can also get your baby a head start on substance abuse and its damages. Stigmatization of taboo topics is a public health disaster.

There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including all wines and beer.

FASDs are preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.

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