Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) belongs to a group of disorders called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. It is caused when a women drinks
during pregnancy. The alcohol can cause birth and developmental defects in the baby. These defects make up FAS.
Alcohol can cross from the mother's blood to the baby's blood. It is passed through the placenta. Even a small amount of alcohol can damage the fetus. Doctors do not know how much alcohol it takes to cause defects. The risk increases with moderate to heavy drinking and with binging. But even social drinking may pose a danger.
Any type of alcohol can cause birth defects.
Blood Traveling Through Mother's Placenta to Baby
Alcohol travels through this path and affects the baby's development, particularly the heart and brain.
The doctor will ask you about your alcohol intake while pregnant. The child's growth will be assessed. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis is based on:
History of alcohol use
Characteristic facial appearance
Nervous system problems
Some children with this condition do not have the typical physical features. Their condition is described:
Fetal alcohol effect
Alcohol related neurodevelopmental disorder
An early diagnosis can help your child get the proper services.
There is no specific medical treatment for this condition. Early intervention is helpful, as well as a supportive, nurturing home.
Professional support helps a family cope with caring for a child with birth defects. Services include respite care and parent training. You can learn ways to handle behavior problems and stress management techniques.
Programs designed to meet your child's needs improve learning. For example, messages may need to be repeated. Tasks may need to be broken down into smaller steps.
Provide consistent direction and structure.
Keep to routines.
Establish simple rules, limits, and consequences.
Praise desired behaviors.
Do not threaten. Violence or abuse increases the risk the child will learn to react in a similar fashion. Your child may need special training to learn ways to handle anger.
Avoid drinking alcohol if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Also, take
to prevent other birth defects.
Avoid heavy drinking when not using birth control. Damage can occur before you even know you are pregnant.
Seek help from a doctor if you cannot stop drinking.
Use birth control until you are able to quit drinking.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a