Teens, Alcohol, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Health care centers have recognized the importance of avoiding alcohol while pregnant for years. However, underage drinking poses a significant risk to teenage mothers with teenage depression. When a teen begins to experiment with alcohol, he or she may be more likely to experience many different problems, which includes teen pregnancy. Furthermore, the mental health development of teenagers has yet to reach the cognitive, consequential understanding of actions as in adults. A thorough understanding of teenage depression and teenage alcohol abuse facts can help curb this correlation and incidence of teen pregnancy, teen alcoholism and teen fetal alcohol syndrome.

Teens, Alcohol, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Teenage Alcohol Abuse Facts

Twenty-four percent of adolescents drank alcohol within the past month, and 15 percent of adolescents engaged in binge drinking, as indicated in the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. However, the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found 35 percent of adolescents drank alcohol, 21 percent engaged in binge drinking, 10 percent operated a vehicle after drinking and 22 percent of adolescents had ridden with an intoxicated driver. Immediately, this high prevalence of alcohol abuse in teenagers represents risks to teenagers. More than 10 percent of all alcohol in the US is consumed by US teenagers, asserts the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Underage drinking has been linked to the following problems:

  • School problems, such as failure to maintain homework responsibilities, attendance and slump in grades
  • Social problems
  • Fighting
  • Legal problems
  • Inability to control impulses, such as engaging in risky sexual behavior
  • Unplanned teen pregnancy
  • Difficulty in recalling events and general memory problems
  • Additional substance abuse
  • Problems with cognitive development
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Alcohol poisoning and death
  • Teen depression and other mental health disorders
  • Unstable moods
  • Illnesses, including hangover, excessive vomiting, sleep deprivation, hypotension and dehydration

For teenagers under 15 years old, engaging in binge drinking, defined as drinking more than approximately five drinks in one sitting, the lifetime risk for becoming dependent on alcohol increases by 500 percent.

Teenage Pregnancy

In 2010, more than 600,000 teenagers became pregnant. 367,700 of these pregnancies resulted in births. In 2014, 6.3 percent of births in the U.S. were to teenagers, and 13.9 percent of all U.S. births outside of marriage were to teenage mothers. According to the Mayo Clinic, some states consider pregnant teens to be emancipated and legally accountable. This level of independence could account for the increase in risky behaviors while pregnant as parental input becomes lost.

A new study, “Substance Use and Teen Pregnancy in the US: Evidence From the NSDUH 2002-2012,” found 33 percent of pregnant teens between the ages of 12 and 14 admitted to using alcohol or illegal drugs within the past month. Moreover, the study’s findings suggest the rate of substance abuse may actually increase when pregnant, and pregnancy rates increase as substance abuse rates increase as well.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

When an expectant mother drinks alcohol, regardless of the quantity, it poses developmental risks to the fetus. Fetal alcohol syndrome has varying degrees of severity, but it tends to cause brain damage and hinder growth. Sadly, the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome are irreversible, and the only course of treatment is to try to reduce additional learning difficulties and abnormalities following birth. The Mayo Clinic explains the physical defects of fetal alcohol syndrome include the following:

  • Wide-set eyes
  • Thin upper lip
  • Smooth skin between the upper lip and nose
  • Deformities of appendages, joints and fingers
  • Vision problems
  • Hearing difficulties
  • Small cranial size or a small head and brain
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Organ failure
  • Bone density loss

Brain Defects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

  • Lack of coordination
  • Cognitive issues
  • Poor memory and recognition
  • Attention problems, such as ADHD
  • Inability to understand consequences of actions
  • Lack of judgement
  • Unstable moods
  • Additional mental health problems

Statistically, fetal alcohol syndrome affects 1 percent of all live births across the U.S. However, the statistics for teenage birth rates with fetal alcohol syndrome may be much higher due to the number of teenage mothers who refuse to provide healthcare records and information to authoritative departments.

Curbing the Trend

Since the direct connection between alcohol abuse and teen pregnancy exists, the incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome increases. The key to reducing this disturbing trend is addressing the availability of alcohol, drugs and other pseudo-legal substances, such as the synthetic drugs, to teens. However, these substances will always be present to teenagers, especially if parents do not provide adequate supervision of teenagers when alcohol is in the home. The incidence of teen depression can occur in any cohort of adolescents, the risk factors for developing depression include the following:

  • Parents with substance abuse problems
  • Financial problems at home
  • Physical, verbal and sexual abuse
  • Death in the immediate family
  • Death of peers
  • Peer pressure

Furthermore, teenagers with an existing mental health condition need to obtain treatment in a Florida mental health facility. Teenage depression should be treated with medications, psychotherapy, and support systems, depending on the specific treatment plan. In turn, this will reduce the chances of engaging in inappropriate, risky behaviors. Teenagers have the option of obtaining treatment in a center for alcohol detox Florida. The Office of the Surgeon General and the National Institute of Health have advised healthcare providers and parents to monitor their teenage children for behaviors alluding to alcohol use, such as those mentioned within the consequences of underage drinking section.

By taking a proactive approach to teenage mental health and problematic behaviors, the incidence of teenage drug and alcohol abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome, and resulting teen pregnancy can be reduced.

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