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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is one of the leading known preventable causes of mental retardation and birth defects. If a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, her baby can be born with FAS, a lifelong condition that causes physical and mental disabilities.
 
Characteristics include:
 
  • Abnormal facial features (smooth philtrum, thin upper lip, small eye openings)
  • Growth deficiencies
  • Central nervous system (CNS) problems.
     
People with fetal alcohol syndrome might have problems with:
 
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Attention span
  • Communication
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • A combination of these.
 
These problems often lead to difficulties in school and in getting along with others.
 
Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
A person with partial fetal alcohol syndrome has facial anomalies and other symptoms without the other characteristics of fetal alcohol syndrome.
 
Fetal Alcohol Effects
The term fetal alcohol effects has been used to describe behavioral and cognitive problems in children who were prenatally exposed to alcohol but who do not have all of the typical diagnostic features of fetal alcohol syndrome. In 1996, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) replaced fetal alcohol effects with the terms alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD).
 
Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder
Children with ARND might have functional or mental problems linked to prenatal alcohol exposure. These include behavioral or cognitive abnormalities (for example, speech delays or hyperactivity) or a combination of both.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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