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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a condition of brain damage and growth problems. It is often misdiagnosed — or sometimes missed completely — preventing children from receiving the care, which could improve their lives.  

What is fetal alcohol syndrome?

FAS is the most severe form of a set of disorders that occur in people whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy. The set of disorders is known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). This is because some people might have some, but not all the symptoms of FAS.

What are the symptoms of FAS?

There can be physical symptoms, behavioral or intellectual symptoms.

The physical symptoms may include:

  • A thin upper lip
  • A smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose
  • Shorter than normal eye openings
  • Growth problems
  • Having muscle weakness/being floppy

Behavioral and intellectual symptoms may include:

  • Fussiness and sensitivity to noise as a baby
  • Delays in development, such as delayed walking or talking
  • Being more active than normal
  • Learning difficulties
  • Thinking, memory and concentration problems

How is FAS diagnosed?

There is no specific test for FAS. The diagnosis includes an examination of the baby and a discussion about the baby’s symptoms. There is also a discussion of the mother’s use of alcohol during pregnancy.

What treatments are available for FAS?

The problems caused by FAS cannot be undone. However, there are treatments which can help manage the symptoms and allow the child to do things they would otherwise have trouble with.

Can FAS be prevented?

Yes. Not drinking alcohol during pregnancy can prevent FAS. There is no safe amount of alcohol and no safe time to consume alcohol during pregnancy. It is even recommended to not drink alcohol while you are trying to get pregnant, as alcohol can affect the baby before you even know you are pregnant.

How can I get help?

If you are having difficulty stopping alcohol, speak with your doctor. There is no shame in seeking help for an alcohol problem. Being open and honest with your provider is crucial for the health of both you and your baby. They can get you the help that you need to safely eliminate alcohol use.

Help is available to you and there are a number of ways to achieve a sober lifestyle while you are pregnant and beyond. For more information visit WillowbrookeAtTanner.org and www.acog.org?.

Tanner Health System, Behavioral Health Care, Maternity Care, Women’s Care, Gynecology Care, Obstetrics Care

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