Genetic and congenital disorders

A 23-year-old woman presents to the OB-GYN office you work in. She was recently surprised to learn that she is pregnant. She estimates that she is about 8 weeks along. She tells you that she regularly drinks on the weekends with her friends. She asks you, “Is that a problem? As long as I don’t drink very much, I can still have a drink occasionally while I’m pregnant, right?”

In your initial post answer the following questions:

How would you answer her questions?
What types of abnormalities can be caused by alcohol, and how does genetics influence this?

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Genetic and Congenital Disorders

            My response to the 23-year-old woman would be that drinking while pregnant is a problem. I would explain to her that the first two weeks after fertilization may be safe to drink because alcohol content could not impact negatively on the zygote and developing blastocyst, as explained by Charness et al. (2016). However, now that she is eight weeks pregnant, it is not advisable for her to drink at all. The reason I would give her is that after the third week after fertilization, the risk of alcohol-induced defects on the developing embryo is quite high.

            Alcohol triggers different abnormalities on the developing embryo, and complications would occur during pregnancy. One of the abnormalities is fetal alcohol syndrome, which occurs when a pregnant woman consumes alcohol consistently during the pregnancy period (Nykjaer et al., 2014). The fetal alcohol syndrome, in turn, results in other abnormalities ranging from mental retardation to physical abnormalities, which will be significant after the baby is born. Genetics influence these abnormalities. For instance, alcohol, once consumed by a pregnant woman, interferes with the DNA leading to irreparable damage, which results…

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