One of the most dangerous drugs for pregnant women to consume is alcohol. Because alcohol is delivered quickly into the blood and passes quickly into the tissues and membranes, the human fetus is particularly vulnerable to its effects. In fact, the negative effects on a fetus are so pronounced that babies born after exposure to alcohol are said to be suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. As a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, the alcohol is passed into her her bloodstream almost simultaneously. Moreover, because the bloodstream of the fetus is inextricably tied to that of the mother, the alcohol passes directly into the bloodstream of the fetus as well. And, what is more, the concentration of alcohol in the fetus is exactly the same as in the mother. For the mother, this concentration is not a problem because her liver can remove one ounce of alcohol from her system per hour. However, the fetus’s liver is not completely developed (how developed it is depends on its stage of development). The rate at which it is able to eliminate the alcohol from the blood of the fetus is much slower. Eventually, the alcohol will be returned to the mother’s system by passing across the placenta, but this process is slow. By the time this takes place, major neurological damage may have already occurred. Research has shown that as little as one drink of alcohol can produce significant, irreversible damage to the fetus. Babies born after exposure to alcohol generally exhibit facial distortion, inability to concentrate, and difficulty in remembering. Simply speaking, it is imperative that pregnant women avoid alcohol.
Following are some TOEFL sample questions on this passage:
- What is the main topic of this reading?
- Women and drugs
- The dangers of pregnancy
- The fetus and alcohol
- Drinking and the human body
- In line 4 the word “its” refers to
- the fetus
- the blood
- the tissue
- the alcohol
- In line 5, the word “pronounced” most closely means
- How much time can it be inferred that it takes alcohol to enter a woman’s bloodstream after she takes a drink?
- about one hour
- a few seconds
- several minutes
- at least 24 hours
- In line 9 the word “inextricably” most nearly means
- According to the passage, how does the concentration of alcohol in a fetus compare to that in the mother?
- The concentration is more.
- The concentration is less.
- The concentration is equivalent.
- The concentration cannot be measured.
- It can be inferred that the development of a fetal liver depends on
- how many months pregnant the mother is
- how much alcohol the mother has consumed
- how large the fetus is
- how well the mother has taken care of the fetus
- According to the passage, how is alcohol finally returned to the mother’s system?
- it is carried through the bloodstream
- it is transferred across the placenta
- it is expelled by the fetus’s liver
- it is not completely returned
- Which one of the following was NOT mentioned as a sign of fetal alcohol syndrome?
- disfigurement of the face
- concentration difficulties
- increased aggression
- memory problems
- At what place in the passage does the author discuss the quantity of alcohol necessary to produce negative results?
- Lines 2-3
- Lines 11-13
- Lines 21-22
- Lines 24-25