Fetal Alcohol Syndrome FAS: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Prenatal alcohol exposure does not always result in FAS—although there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. You can avoid fetal alcohol syndrome by not drinking alcohol during pregnancy. If you’re a woman with a drinking problem who wants to get pregnant, seek help from a doctor. If you’re a light or social drinker, don’t drink if you think you might become pregnant anytime soon. Remember, the effects of alcohol can make a mark during the first few weeks of a pregnancy.

Can people with fetal alcohol syndrome live a normal life?

The disabilities associated with FASDs are said to be lifelong, but we know relatively little regarding outcomes beyond childhood and adolescence. Many of physical, brain, and neurobehavioral features that are present in children with FASDs will endure to adulthood.

Diagnosing FASDs can be hard because there is no medical test, like a blood test, for these conditions. And other disorders, such as ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and Williams syndrome, have some symptoms like FAS. FASDs can occur when a person is exposed to alcohol before birth. Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. https://ecosoberhouse.com/ is completely preventable in children whose mothers don’t drink during pregnancy.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnosis

If a pregnant woman does drink, the sooner she stops, the better it will be for her baby’s health. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome have facial features such as small eyes, a thin upper lip, and a smooth philtrum . Amount, frequency, and timing of prenatal alcohol use can dramatically impact the other three key features of FASD. While consensus exists that alcohol is a teratogen, there is no clear consensus as to what level of exposure is toxic. The CDC guidelines are silent on these elements diagnostically. The IOM and Canadian guidelines explore this further, acknowledging the importance of significant alcohol exposure from regular or heavy episodic alcohol consumption in determining, but offer no standard for diagnosis.

As mentioned previously, complications range in quality and severity. Sequelae include perturbations to affect regulation and cognition, as well as to physical appearance manifested via pathognomonic anomalies. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, get help before you get pregnant. There are professionals who specialize in addiction treatment. Others may have trouble seeing or hearing or other health issues.


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders is an umbrella term for a set of disorders caused by the consumption of alcohol by a mother whilst pregnant. As with every known teratogen, the prenatal consequences of alcohol span a spectrum of effects, with full-blown FAS at one end of the continuum. Many more children exhibit only some features of FAS and others may exhibit only other alcohol-related birth defects. Neurobehavioral effects in the absence of the full-blown syndrome are thought to be the most common outcome of prenatal alcohol abuse. The entire range of known congenital effects of alcohol including FAS is encompassed by the term fetal alcohol spectrum disorder . Management of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders classically is divided into two main areas. Firstly, recognition of the dangers of alcohol consumption in pregnancy and the prevention of damage to the fetus.

Children with FAS, ARND and ARBD often have behavior problems due to brain injury. Some are so severely affected that they cannot function independently in the community. In this episode Alex R. Kemper, MD, MPH, MS, FAAP, deputy editor of Pediatrics, shares a research roundup from the July issue of the journal. Hosts David Hill, MD, FAAP, and Joanna Parga-Belinkie, MD, FAAP, also talk with Rachel Alinsky, MD, MPH, FAAP, about a new policy statement on recommended terminology for substance use disorders. Learn about the cardinal dysmorphic facial features relevant to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Professional Development This section provides ongoing professional development for pediatricians and allied healthcare professionals committed to learning more about FASD. Health Supervision This section provides information on evidence-based interventions, resources for clinicians, and helping families of children with an FASD access services and community supports.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

There is no “safe” amount of alcohol that pregnant women can drink. And there is no time during pregnancy when it’s considered safe to drink alcohol, either. This contradicted the predominating belief at the time that heredity caused intellectual disability, poverty, and criminal behavior, which contemporary studies on the subjects usually concluded. A case study by Henry H. Goddard of the Kallikak family—popular in the early 1900s—represents this earlier perspective, though later researchers have suggested that the Kallikaks almost certainly had FAS. General studies and discussions on alcoholism throughout the mid-1900s were typically based on a heredity argument.

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