Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: FAQs of Parents & Families

However, it is widely accepted that these fetal alcohol syndrome underreported the problem as the other conditions that comprise fetal alcohol spectrum disorders were not defined at the time and thus not recognized. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders range from 24 to 48 cases per 1000. The higher ends of these ranges are seen in high-risk populations such as those with low socioeconomic status and those of racial and ethnic minority populations. The prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome has been reported to be as high as 1.5% among children in the foster care system.

babies born

There are professionals who specialize in addiction treatment. Others may have trouble seeing or hearing or other health issues. You can lose your baby in the womb during the second half of your pregnancy. You can lose your baby during the early few months of pregnancy.

Ten brain domains

Most often, FASDs are diagnosed based on the mother’s history and the appearance of the baby, based on a physical examination by a doctor. The symptoms of FASDs may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Because nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, women of childbearing age should talk with their doctor about how to prevent an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. A pregnant woman who has already used alcohol during her pregnancy should stop right away. That means up to 5% of all babies born in the US are affected by FASD. Some experts believe this to be an underestimate, and that there are even more children with undiagnosed FAS and FASD.

  • Experts know that fetal alcohol syndrome is completely preventable if women don’t drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.
  • Abnormal facial features, including a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip, a thin upper lip, and small eyes.
  • In terms of FASD, growth deficiency is defined as significantly below average height, weight or both due to prenatal alcohol exposure and can be assessed at any point in the lifespan.

Some parents and their children seek alternative treatments outside of the medical establishment. These include healing practices, such as massage and acupuncture . Alternative treatments also include movement techniques, such as exercise or yoga. They can be even more sensitive to disruptions in routine than an average child. Children with FAS are especially likely to develop problems with violence and substance abuse later in life if they are exposed to violence or abuse at home.

What is fetal alcohol syndrome?

Alcohol constricts blood vessels, which slows blood flow to the placenta . “Neurobehavioral and Neuroanatomical Effects of Heavy Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol,” in Streissguth and Kantor. Genetic examinations have revealed a continuum of long-lasting molecular effects that are not only timing specific but are also dosage specific; with even moderate amounts being able to cause alterations.

Using medications to treat some symptoms like attention and behavior issues. Alcohol can kill cells in different parts of the fetus, causing abnormal physical development. The prognosis of FASD is variable depending on the type, severity, and if treatment is issued. Prognostic disabilities are divided into primary and secondary disabilities. Psychoactive drugs are frequently tried as many FASD symptoms are mistaken for or overlap with other disorders, most notably ADHD.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Clinicians should not wait to educate the female about the adverse of alcohol when she gets pregnant but start the education process at every clinic visit before the pregnancy. A mental health nurse should offer to counsel to patients who have alcohol use disorder and are of childbearing age. Only through the combined efforts of the interprofessional team can fetal alcohol syndrome be prevented. A permanent condition, fetal alcohol syndrome happens when a person consumes any amount of alcohol during a pregnancy. Alcohol use during pregnancy can interfere with the baby’s development, causing physical and mental defects.

Toxic byproducts are produced when the body processes alcohol. These can then concentrate in the baby’s brain cells and cause damage. In 2019, CDC researchers found that 1 in 9 pregnant people drank alcohol in a 30-day period of time.

Doctor-approved information to keep you and your family healthy and happy.

These effects can have lifelong implications including physical, mental, behavior, and/or learning issues. Regardless of race or ethnicity, fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder occur in women who drink heavily during pregnancy. Rates of fetal alcohol syndrome appear to be highest among groups of low socioeconomic status. Current evidence supports the conclusion that women who drink heavily during pregnancy may produce children with features of fetal alcohol syndrome. Low-to-moderate levels of maternal alcohol consumption have not been well studied in human pregnancy, but evidence has not suggested a threshold dose below which no effects on cognitive performance or behavior are seen.

  • To prevent FASDs, you should not drink alcohol while you are pregnant, or when you might get pregnant.
  • And other disorders, such as ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and Williams syndrome, have some symptoms like FAS.
  • In 1977, Clarren described a second infant whose mother was a binge drinker.

“Clinical judgment” is only as good as the clinician, and soft signs should be assessed by either a pediatric neurologist, a pediatric neuropsychologist, or both. When structural impairments are not observable or do not exist, neurological impairments are assessed. In the context of FASD, neurological impairments are caused by prenatal alcohol exposure which causes general neurological damage to the central nervous system , the peripheral nervous system, or the autonomic nervous system. A determination of a neurological problem must be made by a trained physician, and must not be due to a postnatal insult, such as meningitis, concussion, traumatic brain injury, etc. Measurement of FAS facial features uses criteria developed by the University of Washington. The lip and philtrum are measured by a trained physician with the Lip-Philtrum Guide, a five-point Likert scale with representative photographs of lip and philtrum combinations ranging from normal to severe .

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