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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

What is FASD?

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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are caused by maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy which includes, but is not limited to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Approximately 1 percent of children are believed to have a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Over time, as it became apparent through research and clinical experience that a range of effects (including physical, behavioral, and cognitive) could arise from prenatal alcohol exposure, the term Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, or FASD, was developed to include Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) as well as other conditions resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure. There are a number of other subtypes with evolving nomenclature and definitions based on partial expressions of FAS, including Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS), Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND), Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD).

The term Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders is not in itself a clinical diagnosis but describes the full range of disabilities that may result from prenatal alcohol exposure.

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a condition that results from alcohol exposure during pregnancy. Problems that may be caused by alcohol exposure in utero include physical deformities, mental retardation, learning disabilities, vision difficulties and behavioral problems. There are three distinct facial features that are considered the hallmarks of FAS. The facial features are a thin upper lip, smooth lip philtrum, and short palpebral fissures.

The problems caused by fetal alcohol syndrome vary from child to child and are dependent in part on the amount of alcohol exposure, but defects caused by fetal alcohol syndrome are irreversible.

There is no amount of alcohol that’s known to be safe to consume during pregnancy. If you drink during pregnancy, you place your baby at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome.

If you suspect your child has fetal alcohol syndrome, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis may reduce the risk of problems, including learning difficulties and substance abuse.