Characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Central Nervous System Characteristics

Fetal alcohol syndrome characteristics affecting the central nervous system (CNS) can include:
 
  • Poor coordination
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental disabilities (for example, speech and language delays)
  • Mental retardation or low IQ
  • Problems with daily living
  • Poor reasoning and judgment skills
  • Sleep and sucking disturbances in infancy.
     
These problems often lead to difficulties in school and problems getting along with others.
 
Over time, children with fetal alcohol syndrome are at risk for psychiatric problems, criminal behavior, unemployment, and incomplete education. These are secondary conditions that an individual is not born with, but that he or she might acquire as a result of fetal alcohol syndrome or other fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
 
(Click Effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome for more information on these long-term effects.)
 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Other Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

If a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, but her child does not have all of the characteristics of fetal alcohol syndrome, it is possible that her child has another fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, such as alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND).
 
Children with ARND do not have full fetal alcohol syndrome but might demonstrate learning and behavioral problems caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. Examples of these problems include:
 
  • Difficulties with mathematical skills
  • Difficulties with memory or attention
  • Poor school performance
  • Poor impulse control and/or judgment.
     
Pregnancy and Pain

Information on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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