< Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)

Wikipedia reports Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as the following:

Fetal alcohol syndrome or FAS is a disorder of permanent birth defects that occurs in the offspring of women who drink alcohol during pregnancy. It is unknown whether amount, frequency or timing of alcohol consumption during pregnancy causes a difference in amount of damage done to the fetus. Thus, the current recommendation is not to drink at all during pregnancy. Alcohol crosses the placental barrier and can stunt fetal growth or weight, create distinctive facial stigmata, damage neurons and brain structures, and cause other physical, mental, or behavioral problems.

The main effect of FAS is permanent and nonsubsequinciel central nervous system damage, especially the brain. Developing brain cells and structures are underdeveloped or malformed by prenatal alcohol exposure, often creating an array of primary cognitive and functional disabilities (including poor memory, attention deficits, impulsive behavior, and poor cause-effect reasoning) as well as secondary disabilities (for example, mental health problems, and drug addiction). The risk of brain damage exists during each trimester, since the fetal brain develops throughout the entire pregnancy.

KidsHealth Reports the following:

Signs and Symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

If you adopted a child or consumed alcohol during pregnancy and are concerned that your child may have FAS, watch for characteristics of the syndrome, which include:

  • low birth weight
  • small head circumference
  • failure to thrive
  • developmental delay
  • organ dysfunction
  • facial abnormalities, including smaller eye openings, flattened cheekbones, and indistinct philtrum (an underdeveloped groove between the nose and the upper lip)
  • epilepsy
  • poor coordination/fine motor skills
  • poor socialization skills, such as difficulty building and maintaining friendships and relating to groups
  • lack of imagination or curiosity
  • learning difficulties, including poor memory, inability to understand concepts such as time and money, poor language comprehension, poor problem-solving skills
  • behavioral problems, including hyperactivity, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, stubbornness, impulsiveness, and anxiety

Children with FAE display the same symptoms, but to a lesser degree.

Problems associated with FAS tend to intensify as children move into adulthood. These can include mental health problems, troubles with the law, and the inability to live independently.

Kids with FAE are frequently undiagnosed. This also applies to those with alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), a recently recognized category of prenatal damage that refers to children who exhibit only the behavioral and emotional problems of FAS/FAE without any signs of developmental delay or physical growth deficiencies.

Often, in kids with FAE or ARND, the behavior can appear as mere belligerence or stubbornness. They may score well on intelligence tests, but their behavioral deficits often interfere with their ability to succeed. Extensive education and training for the parents, health care professionals, and teachers who care for these kids are essential.

NIH reports areas of the brain that can be damaged in utero by maternal alcohol consumption:


Source: Mattson, S.N., et al. MRI and prenatal alcohol exposure: Images provide insight into FAS. Alcohol Health & Research World 18(1):4952, 1994.