Fetal Alcohol Syndromeenparentshttps://kidshealth.org/EN/images/headers/P-fetalAlcohol-enHD-AR1.jpgIf a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, her baby could be born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which causes a wide range of physical, behavioral, and learning problems.fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, FAS, FASD, fetal alcohol syndrome, fae, fetal alcohol effects, fae, alcohol, drinking liquor, wine, beer, booze, drinking while pregnant, pregnancy, i'm expecting a baby, expectant moms, prenatal care, staying healthy during pregnancy, alcoholics anonymous, congenital birth defects, fetal abnormalities, low birth weight, prematurity, premature baby, developmental delays, handicaps, handicapped, disabled child, child with a disability, learning disorders, learning disabilities, arnd, alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder, fas/fae, alcohol abuse, neonatal, neonatology, neurology03/22/200009/26/201909/26/2019Mary L. Gavin, MD08/25/2016093ddcfb-59b6-4aa2-a4e8-a59f37530b61https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/fas.html/<p>Drinking alcohol during her&nbsp;<a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/center/pregnancy-center.html/">pregnancy</a> can cause a woman's baby to be born with <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/birth-defects.html/">birth defects</a> and developmental disabilities. In fact, alcohol (beer, wine, or hard liquor) is the leading cause of preventable birth defects and developmental disabilities in the United States.</p> <p>Babies exposed to alcohol in the womb can develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). These disorders include a wide range of physical, behavioral, and learning problems. The most severe type of FASD is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). It is caused by heavy drinking during pregnancy.</p> <h3>How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?</h3> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">There is <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/preg-alcohol.html/">no known safe amount</a> of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. Any amount of alcohol can harm a developing fetus and increase the risk of miscarriage.</span><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;"></span></p> <p>Alcohol easily passes through the placenta, the organ that nourishes a baby during pregnancy. Alcohol exposure during the first trimester &mdash; perhaps before a woman even knows she is pregnant &mdash; can cause major birth defects. Later in the pregnancy, drinking alcohol can cause poor growth and brain damage that could lead to learning and behavioral problems.</p> <p>These problems can be prevented by not drinking any alcohol during pregnancy. Do not drink if you are trying to get pregnant or think you may be pregnant.</p> <h3>How FAS Affects Kids</h3> <p>Kids with fetal alcohol syndrome share certain facial features such as&nbsp;small eye openings, a thin upper lip, and a smooth philtrum (the groove between nose and upper lip). Other problems include:</p> <ul class="kh_longline_list"> <li class="MsoNormal"><strong><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">Poor growth.</span></strong><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">Newborns may have low birth weights and</span><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/az-microcephaly.html/"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; color: blue;">small head sizes</span></a>. They may not grow or gain weight as well as other children and may be short as adults.</span></li> <li class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/baby-has-birth-defect.html/"><strong><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; color: blue;">Birth defects.</span></strong></a>&nbsp;Developing babies may have</span><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><a class="kh_anchor"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; color: blue;">heart</span></a>, bone, and kidney problems. Vision problems and hearing loss are common.</span></li> <li class="MsoNormal"><strong><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/seizure.html/"><span style="color: blue;">Seizures</span></a>&nbsp;and other neurologic problems</span></strong><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">, such as poor balance and coordination.</span></li> <li class="MsoNormal"><strong><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">Delayed development.</span></strong><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;Kids may not reach</span><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/development-sheets.html/"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; color: blue;">milestones</span></a></span><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">at the expected time.</span></li> <li class="MsoNormal"><strong><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">Behavioral problems.</span></strong><span style="font-size: 9.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;</span><span><font face="Verdana, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 9pt;">Babies may be fussy or jittery, and have trouble sleeping.&nbsp;</span></font></span><span style="font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 9pt;">Older children and teens may have:</span></li> </ul> <p class="indent_this"><span style="font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 1em; line-height: 16.8px;">* a lack of coordination and poor fine motor skills</span><br /><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;">* poor social skills (</span><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;">difficulty getting along with friends and relating to others, etc.)</span><br /><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;">* learning difficulties,</span><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;">including poor memory, difficulty in school (especially math), and poor problem-solving skills</span><br /><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;">* behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, poor attention and concentration, stubbornness, impulsiveness, and&nbsp;</span><font face="Verdana, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">anxiety</span></font></p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">Children with other FASDs have many of the same problems, but usually to a lesser degree.</span></p> <h3>Diagnosis</h3> <p>FASDs are diagnosed based on the symptoms (facial features, poor growth, and brain involvement), especially if it is known that the mother drank during the pregnancy. In children with milder problems, FASD can be harder to diagnose.&nbsp;Further evaluation and testing might be needed to rule out other conditions.</p> <p>A child who is thought to have an FASD may be referred to a developmental pediatrician, genetic specialist, or another specialist who can help identify the problem and confirm a diagnosis.</p> <h3>Treatment</h3> <p>There is no cure for FAS or FASDs. But many things can be done to help a child reach his or her full potential, especially when the condition is diagnosed early on.</p> <p>Children can benefit from services and therapies such as:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/speech-therapy.html/" style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">speech-language</a><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">, </span><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/occupational-therapy.html/" style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">occupational</a><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">, and </span><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/phys-therapy.html/" style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">physical therapy</a></li> <li><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/special-ed-support.html/"><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">early intervention education services</span></a></li> <li><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">adult classes that help parents and other caregivers handle problem behaviors or other issues</span></li> <li><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">classes that teach kids social skills</span></li> <li><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">counseling with a mental health professional</span></li> </ul> <p>Doctors may prescribe medicines to help with some of the problems associated with FAS, including <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/adhd.html/">attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)</a>, <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/understanding-depression.html/">depression</a>, aggressive behavior, sleep problems, and <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/anxiety-disorders.html/">anxiety</a>.</p> <p>Sometimes families want to try alternative treatments for FASDs, such as biofeedback, yoga, herbal supplements, and creative art therapy. Although some may be helpful &mdash;&nbsp;such as using relaxation techniques for anxiety&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 16.8px;">&mdash;</span>&nbsp;others have not been tested and may be harmful. Check&nbsp;with your child's doctor before starting any alternative treatment.</p> <h3>Caring for a Child With an FASD</h3> <p>Children with an FASD tend to be friendly and cheerful and enjoy social interaction, but caring for a child with this syndrome can still be challenging at times. Many kids will have lifelong learning and behavioral problems.</p> <p>Besides early intervention services and support from your child's school, providing a stable, nurturing, and safe home environment can help reduce the effects of an FASD.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">Don't be afraid to seek help, if needed. Talk to your child's doctor or other members of the care team.</span></p> <p>Finally, a caregiver of a child with FAS should make sure to take care of himself or herself as well. Support groups and counselors can be helpful.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.4em;">It's also important to get help for a parent or caregiver who continues to struggle with alcohol addiction.</span></p>
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