Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders FASDs

If you have adopted a child or are providing foster care, you may not know if the biological mother drank alcohol while pregnant — and it may not initially occur to you that your child may have fetal alcohol syndrome. However, if your child has problems with learning and behavior, talk with his or her doctor so that the underlying cause might be identified.

fetal alcohol syndrome

The exact number of children who have an FASD is difficult to determine. Some experts estimate that approximately 40,000 babies may be born with an FASD in the United States each year. Based on studies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others, it is estimated that in the United States, somewhere between 800 and 8,000 babies could be born each year with fetal alcohol syndrome . Early detection along with appropriate behavioral and special education are the most important factors for improved outcomes in children with FAS. These specialized therapies improve social and cognitive abilities and have an inverse relationship with time of diagnosis. Treatment is highly individualized and can include occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy for patients who suffer from anxiety and/or depression. There is no known safe limit of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Genetic Disorders and Dysmorphic Conditions

Major evidence of fetal alcohol syndrome is observed in 30% to 50% of offspring of mothers who are chronic severe alcoholics, whereas more subtle effects result from ingestion of lesser quantities of alcohol. The risk to the fetus of occasional maternal alcoholic binges is not clear, but such drinking is best avoided.

What is the DSM-5 criteria for alcohol use disorder?

DSM-5 criteria are as follows: A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by 2 or more of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period: Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.

These may include problems with math, memory or attention, and impulse control or judgment. An FASD diagnosis provides families, pediatricians and nonphysician clinicians a framework for understanding an individual’s behavior. Science indicates that therapeutic interventions, special education and support services improve fetal alcohol syndrome outcomes for patients and families. The protective effect of early diagnosis can reduce the risk of additional disabilities and mitigate lifelong consequences. Ongoing care in a supportive pediatric home is an important component to achieving health and wellbeing for any child with an FASD and their family.

Treating Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Without Bias – Episode 110

In the United States, a “standard drink” is defined for as any alcoholic beverage that contains 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol. In general, the means 12 oz of beer, 4 oz glass of wine, or 1 oz shot of hard liquor are each one standard drink. Mixed drinks or alcohol served in restaurants/bars often contain more than one standard drink. Others may have trouble seeing or hearing or other health issues.

Both quantity and pattern of drinking are more likely important factors in the teratogenic effects. Pregnant women and reproductive-aged women without reliable contraception should be advised to abstain from alcohol.

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The toxic effects of in utero alcohol exposure are manifested by a constellation of physical, behavioral, and cognitive abnormalities commonly referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders . In addition to being the most preventable cause of mental retardation, in utero exposure to alcohol results in increased rates of miscarriage, reduced birth weight, growth retardation, and teratogenic effects. Children can be diagnosed with partial forms of fetal alcohol syndrome if they show the abnormal features even when there is no clear proof that their mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. Some children with partial fetal alcohol syndromes show only some of the features. This may be called “fetal alcohol effects.” When a pregnant person drinks alcohol later in pregnancy, sometimes the physical facial features do not develop in the child, but the other problems still happen.

  • All women of child bearing age should understand that there is, at this time, no known minimum amount of alcohol that can be consumed safely during pregnancy.
  • Over time, your child may get help from special education programs and social services.
  • The estimated extra cost of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in USA in has been estimated at $500,000 per individual over a 20 year period .
  • Thus prediction of individual risk is particularly difficult if not impossible.
  • Find information on birth defects, including what causes them, how they’re diagnosed, and how they can be prevented.

50% have some form of confinement in mental health or criminal justice situations and 50% some form of sexually inappropriate behaviour. They suggest that this is a sign that even at the low levels of alcohol consumption (an average of 4.3 units per week +/- 1.9) permanent damage to the developing fetal brains is occurring. A majority 74% felt that drinking in pregnancy was acceptable and 65% reported they had received little or no information from their midwife about possible dangers. This is consistent with data collected by the UK government in their alcohol reduction strategy, where it was found that 61% of women drank during pregnancy to some level . Although 97% had heard of alcohol causing problems during pregnancy, 48% thought that the condition related to the baby being addicted to alcohol and just over 50% felt the condition could be cured. Similar information needs to be collected in the UK urgently in order to inform health promotion strategies.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Complications

To improve outcomes, education emphasizing abstinence from alcohol is vital. Clinicians should not wait to educate the female about the adverse effects of alcohol when she gets pregnant but start the education process at every clinic visit before the pregnancy. A mental health nurse should offer to counsel to patients who have alcohol use disorder and are of childbearing age. Only through the combined efforts of the interprofessional team can fetal alcohol syndrome be prevented.

Doctors may prescribe medicines to help with related problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , depression, aggressive behavior, sleep problems, and anxiety. They may not grow or gain weight as well as other children. Cleveland Clinic Children’s is dedicated to the medical, surgical and rehabilitative care of infants, children and adolescents. Emotional and behavioral issues like difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and poor judgment.

Alcohol use during pregnancy causes life-long issues that can be very serious. If you’ve consumed alcohol during pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider. It’s important to make an early diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome. If you’re currently pregnant and drinking alcohol, stop immediately to try to lower the risk of FAS.

When is fetal alcohol syndrome most likely to occur?

Alcohol can disrupt fetal development at any stage during a pregnancy—including at the earliest stages before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Research shows that binge drinking and regular heavy drinking put a fetus at the greatest risk for severe problems.

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