Pregnancy Home > Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

How Is a Diagnosis Made?

An expert trained to assess birth defects and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders can make a diagnosis. Tests used in diagnosing the condition usually include:
  • Complete physical exam (height, weight, vision, hearing, cardiogram, etc.)
  • Evaluation of the face
  • IQ test (for example, WISC -- Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-- or WAIS -- Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale).
Why the Diagnosis Is Important
Because most people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders have no visible signs of alcohol exposure, their problems may be wrongly blamed on poor parenting or on other disorders.
Early diagnosis and intervention contribute to positive long-term outcomes. Accurate diagnosis can:
  • Help the person receive appropriate services
  • Aid communication among clinicians, caregivers, educators, and families
  • Provide better self-awareness and understanding by family members.

Treatment for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

A fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a permanent condition. It affects every aspect of an individual's life, as well as the lives of his or her family. However, while these disorders cannot be cured, children can be helped.
A targeted treatment plan will help improve outcomes. Sharing the assessment results with your child's school can help in identifying appropriate services and teaching strategies. Your child might qualify for an individualized education plan (IEP), including services such as speech therapy and counseling.
You can also contact the Department of Social Services or Developmental Disabilities Services to ask what support is available. It might be possible to obtain financial support, such as Supplemental Security Income. Finally, it is important to share the information with your child's pediatrician and other healthcare providers to help obtain appropriate medical and mental health services.
(Click Treatment of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome for more information on treatment options.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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