Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)?

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a group of physical, mental, and neurobehavioral birth defects that result from the mother drinking alcohol during her pregnancy. Children with FAS may have many but not all of the following characteristics:

Growth deficiencies: low birth weight and length with ongoing growth deficiency and/or failure to thrive
Facial abnormalities: small eye openings, eye problems, ear deformities, flat mid-face, short upturned nose, low nasal bridge, and smooth, thin upper lip
Organ abnormalities: heart and liver defects
Skeletal deformities: small head, deformed ribs, curved spine, and joint problems
Central nervous system damage: mental retardation, tremors, seizures, coordination problems, learning disabilities, and abnormal behavior such as extreme nervousness, poor socialization skills, attention deficit, and hyperactivity

The facial characteristics of FAS may be most apparent in a child who is between the ages of two and ten. Prenatal alcohol exposure does not always result in FAS. Some babies are born with Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) that may include some but not all of the symptoms of FAS. These babies may be normal physically and mentally but have other symptoms such as hyperactivity and behavior problems.

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