Author: James Anderson

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designated specific drugs for treating the symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol in babies. However, it’s important to note that there is no treatment for life-long birth defects and retardation.

  1. Joining a support group or 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous also may help.
  2. Alcohol seems most damaging in the first trimester (three months) of pregnancy but can affect the fetus at any time during the pregnancy.
  3. There’s no cure or specific treatment for fetal alcohol syndrome.
  4. Receiving treatment as soon as possible in childhood can help decrease the likelihood of developing these secondary effects in life.

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a condition that develops in a fetus (developing baby) when a pregnant person drinks alcohol during pregnancy. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that happen together as the result of a particular disease or abnormal condition. When someone has fetal alcohol syndrome, they’re at the most severe end of what are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Almost all experts recommend that the mother abstain from alcohol use during pregnancy to prevent FASDs. As the woman may not become aware that she has conceived until several weeks into the pregnancy, it is also recommended to abstain while attempting to become pregnant.

Alcohol — including wine, beer, and liquor — is the leading preventable cause of birth defects in the U.S. In 2019, CDC researchers found that 1 in 9 pregnant people drank alcohol in a 30-day period of time. At the same time as you ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist, call your state or territory’s early intervention program to request a free evaluation to find out if your child can get services to help. You do not need to wait for a doctor’s referral or a medical diagnosis to make this call. If you or the doctor thinks there could be a problem, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist (someone who knows about FASDs), such as a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, or clinical geneticist. In some cities, there are clinics whose staffs have special training in diagnosing and treating children with FASDs.

Goal of Fetal Alcohol Treatment

Because early diagnosis may help reduce the risk of long-term problems for children with fetal alcohol syndrome, let your child’s doctor know if you drank alcohol while you were pregnant. There’s no cure or specific treatment for fetal alcohol syndrome. The physical defects and mental deficiencies typically persist for a lifetime. To diagnose fetal alcohol syndrome, doctors look for unusual facial features, lower-than-average height and weight, small head size, problems with attention and hyperactivity, and poor coordination.

Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups, and changes as needed along the way. Diagnosing FASDs can be hard because there is no medical test, like a blood test, for these conditions. And other disorders, such as ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and Williams syndrome, have some symptoms like FAS.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Don’t start an alcohol elimination program without telling your healthcare provider. They may be able to direct you to further options for achieving your goals and provide the medical care that may be necessary to withdraw from alcohol. Unfortunately, people with FAS are more likely to experience legal troubles, have secondary mental health diagnoses, and have higher rates of suicide. People with FAS have better outcomes if they experience a supportive and loving environment during childhood. Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of congenital (present at birth) conditions in the United States. When consumed during pregnancy, alcohol crosses the placenta and enters the fetus’s bloodstream.

Does fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) last into adulthood?

Early identification can maximize help in the treatment of FASD and in building supportive networks with other individuals and families impacted by FASD. This may be due, in part, to a lack of information about prenatal alcohol exposure or difficulty in distinguishing FASD from other developmental disorders that might have similar cognitive or behavioral symptoms. Any amount of alcohol during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome. Damage to your developing baby can happen at any point during pregnancy. All alcohol, including beer, wine, ciders and hard liquor can all cause FAS. FAS is characterized by prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE), craniofacial (head and face) differences, neurodevelopmental abnormalities (including behavioral issues), and growth impairment.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

The more alcohol you drink during pregnancy, the greater the chance of problems in your baby. There’s no known safe amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The more you drink while pregnant, the greater the risk to your unborn baby. Your baby’s brain, heart and blood vessels begin to develop in the early weeks of pregnancy, before you may know you’re pregnant.

The risk of FASD increases with amount consumed, the frequency of consumption, and longer duration of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, particularly binge drinking. The variance seen in outcomes of alcohol consumption during pregnancy is poorly understood. Diagnosis is based on an assessment of growth, facial features, central nervous system, and alcohol exposure by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals.

Joining a support group or 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous also may help. Diagnosing fetal alcohol syndrome requires expertise and a thorough assessment. Early diagnosis and services can help improve your child’s ability to function.

Basics about FASDs

In 1996, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) replaced FAE with the terms alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD). The result of alcohol on a developing fetus can lead to craniofacial differences, growth impairment, neurodevelopmental disabilities, and behavioral issues. Research shows that alcohol exposure at specific times during pregnancy can affect the brain in various ways, resulting in a spectrum of brain disorders. Prenatal alcohol exposure and central nervous system (CNS) involvement are factors common to the disorders encompassing FASD. Evidence of CNS involvement can be structural (e.g., small brain size, alterations in specific brain regions) or functional (e.g., cognitive and behavioral deficits, motor and coordination problems).

This article will discuss the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of FAS in children and adults. The findings are of public health significance, since it’s estimated that more than 1 million babies born annually in the United States have been exposed to at least one of these things in utero. There are no medications to treat fetal alcohol syndrome specifically. But certain medicines can help with symptoms like hyperactivity, inability to focus, or anxiety. After delivery, you should continue to pay attention to when you drink alcohol if you’re breastfeeding your baby. The beginning of fetal development is the most important for the whole body, but organs like the brain continue to develop throughout pregnancy.

If you’re currently pregnant and drinking alcohol, stop immediately to try to lower the risk of FAS. There are no exact statistics of how many people have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose a person with FASD because of the variety of symptoms and spectrum of severity. Also, not all people who drink while pregnant feel comfortable talking to their healthcare provider. This means that some people with mild symptoms of FASD might never be diagnosed. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person who was exposed to alcohol before birth.

Treatment strategies for FAS include nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic interventions. A single episode of binge drinking, especially during the first few weeks of pregnancy, can lead to FAS. Having four or more drinks within two hours is considered a single binge-drinking episode for females. However, most studies have not researched FAS symptoms in people over the age of 30. The prognosis of FASD is variable depending on the type, severity, and if treatment is issued.[citation needed] Prognostic disabilities are divided into primary and secondary disabilities. CDC is working to make alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI) a routine element of health care in all primary care settings.