What is fetal alcohol syndrome?

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) represents the severe end of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) spectrum. Fetal death is the most extreme outcome from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. People with FAS might have abnormal facial features, growth problems and central nervous system (CNS) problems. People with FAS can have problems with learning, memory, attention span, communication, vision or hearing. They might have a mix of these problems. People with FAS often have a hard time in school and trouble getting along with others.

Dr. Deborah Raines, MSN
Nursing Specialist

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a condition present at birth characterized by physical, mental and neurobehavioral problems associated with fetal exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. It is a lifelong, yet preventable condition that results for the mother’s consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.

FAS refer to a range of effects. A baby with fetal alcohol syndrome may have the following symptoms:

  • Poor growth
  • Decreased muscle tone and poor coordination
  • Delayed development and problems in three or more major areas: thinking, speech, movement or social skills
  • Abnormal facial features, including:
    • Narrow, small eyes with large epicanthal folds
    • Small head
    • Small upper jaw
    • Smooth groove in upper lip
    • Smooth and thin upper lip
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Learning disabilities
  • Sleep and sucking problems as an infant.

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