What is fetal alcohol syndrome?

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most advanced type of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), disorders that are caused by alcohol use during pregnancy. These disorders can cause problems in physical, mental and cognitive development of the infant. Other FASDs include alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), which involves intellectual disabilities, and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBDs) that include heart, kidney and hearing problems.

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy, no matter how small the amount, can harm your fetus and impair its development. When you consume alcohol, it crosses the placenta into the fetus. The amount and timing affect the extent of damage. Drinking alcohol during the first three months of pregnancy puts your fetus at the greatest risk for developing FASDs, and the more you drink, the greater the risk. Avoiding consumption of alcohol is the best way to prevent FASDs (Source: CDC).

Fetal alcohol syndrome has a pronounced effect on the mental and social development of a child, including reasoning, thinking, coordination, and social skills. Fetal alcohol syndrome also affects formation of the heart and skeletal system. A baby with fetal alcohol syndrome is often easy to identify. Common features include a small head, small jaw, and narrow-set eyes.

Fetal alcohol syndrome drastically affects the quality of a person’s life. Brain damage is common in people with this syndrome, which poses a challenge in all aspects of their lives: social, career, education and health.

If you drink alcohol and are pregnant, it is imperative that you stop immediately. Alcohol crosses from the placenta into the womb and impairs fetal development. Seek prompt medical care from a treatment center or other trained professionalsif you are pregnant and unable to stop drinking alcohol.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome?

Symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome include delayed or lack of cognitive development surrounding learning, social skills, coordination, reasoning and logic, and movement. The cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems are also affected. The extent of impairment can vary from mild to severe.... Read more about fetal alcohol syndromesymptoms

CAUSES

What causes fetal alcohol syndrome?

Fetal alcohol syndrome is caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Drinking during pregnancy, no matter how small the amount, can harm the fetus and impair its development. When you consume alcohol, it crosses the placenta into the fetus. The amount and timing affect the extent of damage. Drinking alcohol during the first three months of pregnancy has the potential to cause the most risk, and the risk increases with the more you drink.... Read more about fetal alcohol syndromecauses

TREATMENTS

How is fetal alcohol syndrome treated?

Women who are pregnant and self-identify as alcoholics or believe they have a problem with alcohol should seek treatment immediately. Many support groups and treatment centers exist for alcoholism.... Read more about fetal alcohol syndrometreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Genetics and Birth Defects


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