FAS or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a pattern of mental and physical problems that may occur in some children whose mothers consumed alcohol during pregnancy.
Fetal Alcohol Effects is term that was used to describe a less severe pattern of mental and physical problems that may occur in some children exposed to varying amount of alcohol during the prenatal period. This term is now outdated. Terms currently in use include Partial FAS (pFAS); Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND); and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
During gestation the fetus receives nourishment through the placenta. When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol passes through the placenta to the developing fetus.
The research is inconclusive. Some studies suggest that fathers who drink heavily prior to the conception of the baby may adversely affect the baby, but it is not clear how this might occur.
The effects of alcohol on the fetus may range from no effect to severe metal retardation and physical abnormalities.
Infants may initially be irritable, jittery, difficult to feed, and hyperactive. They may have difficulty with state control [link to glossary] and display fidgety, restless behavior. Muscle tone and coordination may be impaired.
Children born with FAS may have facial abnormalities such as small eye openings, drooping eye lids, a thin upper lip, a wide nose bridge, and an absent or flat groove between the nose and the upper lip. Newborns whose mothers continued to drink during pregnancy are smaller than average in height, weight, and head circumference. Heart and skeletal abnormalities may also be present.
The absorption of alcohol through the placenta may damage the fetus's developing central nervous system and may result in mental retardation, developmental delays, and learning disabilities.
FAS and FAE are caused by repeated exposure to alcohol during the prenatal period. Maternal alcohol use during any stage of pregnancy may cause damage to the fetus. The more frequently alcohol is used the higher the risk to the child. Binge drinking is another factor that increases the risk of birth defects.
Many children affected by fetal alcohol syndrome or related conditions can benefit from special education training.
The Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development Study is under the direction of Claire D. Coles Ph.D., with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Emory University School of Medicine. For more information, please contact: Claire D. Coles: firstname.lastname@example.org Karen K. Howell: email@example.com
FAS Clinic Marcus Institute 1920 Briarcliff Road NE Atalnta, GA 30324 (404) 419-4250