Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Background, Pathophysiology, Etiology

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome occurs when a fetus is exposed to alcohol during conception. Several characteristic craniofacial abnormalities are often visible in individuals with FAS. The presence of FAS facial features indicates brain damage, although brain damage may also exist in their absence. FAS facial features (and most other visible, but non-diagnostic, deformities) are believed to be caused mainly during the 10th to 20th week of gestation. If you suspect your child has fetal alcohol syndrome, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis may help to reduce problems such as learning difficulties and behavioral issues.

  • When structural or neurological impairments are not observed, all four diagnostic systems allow CNS damage due to prenatal alcohol exposure to be assessed in terms of functional impairments.
  • When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, some of that alcohol easily passes across the placenta to the fetus.
  • However, the pediatric ophthalmologist can help the family and school personnel optimize the child’s learning experience.
  • All Facts can be viewed and printed from the AACAP website ().
  • Given that the CNS damage from prenatal alcohol exposure is permanent, there is no cure for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

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. Treating FAS at the public health and public policy level promotes FAS prevention and diversion of public resources to assist those with FAS.

What are the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome?

If you have an alcohol problem, get help before you get pregnant. Get professional help to determine your level of dependence on alcohol and to develop a treatment plan. FASDs are preventable if a baby is not exposed to alcohol before birth. Needs to review the security of your connection before proceeding. The upper lip may be thin and the area between the nose and upper lip- called the philtrum may be wide and flat- without the normal vertical curves. If you find Facts for Families© helpful and would like to make good mental health a reality, consider donating to the Campaign for America’s Kids.


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. Those often include breathing trouble and other issues linked to immature lungsor developmental problems due to underdeveloped brain or brain abnormalities.

Areas Evaluated for FASD Diagnoses

It’s also recommended that you not drink alcohol if you’re sexually active and not using effective birth control. It can take four to six weeks before you know you’re pregnant. During early pregnancy, the fetus is already developing rapidly. Alcohol consumption could harm the developing fetus at any time during pregnancy — especially early on in the development process. This condition can be prevented if you don’t drink any alcohol during pregnancy.

What are 5 signs and symptoms of FASDs?

  • Low body weight.
  • Poor coordination.
  • Hyperactive behavior.
  • Difficulty with attention.
  • Poor memory.
  • Difficulty in school (especially with math)
  • Learning disabilities.
  • Speech and language delays.

However, it’s important to note that there is no fetal alcohol syndrome for life-long birth defects and retardation. Using alcohol during pregnancy is the leading cause of preventable birth defects, developmental disabilities and learning disabilities. However, the only way to prevent FAS is to avoid drinking beverages containing alcohol during pregnancy. For many adopted or adults and children in foster care, records or other reliable sources may not be available for review. Reporting alcohol use during pregnancy can also be stigmatizing to birth mothers, especially if alcohol use is ongoing. In these cases, all diagnostic systems use an unknown prenatal alcohol exposure designation.

Is there a safe time during pregnancy when a woman can drink alcohol?

A with fetal alcohol syndrome needs to be watched closely to see if their treatment needs to be adjusted. The symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome tend to get worse as a person grows up. If you’ve already consumed alcohol during pregnancy, it’s never too late to stop. Brain growth in the fetus takes place throughout pregnancy, so stopping alcohol consumption as soon as possible is always best. Parental training is meant to help parents to help families cope with behavioral, educational and social challenges. Parents might learn different routines and rules that can help their child adapt to different situations.

  • To improve outcomes, education emphasizing abstinence from alcohol is vital.
  • Over time, an unaffected child can negotiate the increasing demands of life by progressing through stages of development normally, but not so for a child with FAS.
  • We’re 67​,000 pediatricians committed to the optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.
  • To make this diagnosis or determine any FASD condition, a multi-disciplinary evaluation is necessary to assess each of the four key features for assessment.
  • Small amounts of alcohol may not cause an abnormal appearance, however, small amounts of alcohol consumption while pregnant may cause milder symptoms such as behavioral problems and also increases the risk of miscarriage.

Dejá un comentario

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *