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One form of abuse a fetus can experience is the use of alcohol by the mother A direct result from alcohol use by some mothers is fetal alcohol syndrome Fetal alcohol syndrome is a serious health problem that tragically affects its victims and their families but that is completely preventable Causing a child to suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome is really nothing short of child abuse and it lasts for life Babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome tend to weigh less and be shorter than normal They usually suffer from smaller heads deformed facial features abnormal joints and limbs poor coordination problems with learning and short memories Victims of fetal alcohol syndrome often experience mental health problems a disrupted school experience inappropriate sexual behavior trouble with the law alcohol and drug problems difficulty caring for themselves and their children and homelessness Another form of abuse a fetus can experience is the use of tobacco by the mother Smoking during pregnancy can cause different problems than alcohol The main problem with tobacco use during pregnancy is the dirtiness of tobacco It contains about four thousand different chemicals including heavy metals tars gases and even radioactive materials Two of the best known chemicals in cigarette smoke are nicotine and carbon monoxide Both reduce oxygen flow to the fetus while nicotine speeds up heartbeat and increases blood pressure in the fetus There are many risks of smoking during pregnancy One risk is delayed growth The more a woman smokes the less her baby grows Twice as many babies weighing less than five pounds are born to smokers as to nonsmokers Another risk is premature birth Pregnant smokers are more likely to suffer bleeding damage to the placenta and other problems that trigger early birth Infant death is also a risk Smoking is a direct cause of miscarriage stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome Some experts say infant death rates rise by twenty to thirty-five percent among smoking mothers
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