Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause several birth defects. The spectrum of alcohol-related diagnoses includes: 

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  • Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)
  • PFAS (Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome)
  • ARND (Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder)
  • ARBD (Alcohol Related Birth Defects)

All of these birth defects are entirely preventable.

Birth defects can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race or socioeconomic status. 

 

FAS three criteria for diagnosis

1) Characteristic facial features 

  • Flattened midface
  • Thin upper lip
  • Indistinct/absent philtrum
  • Short eye slits

2) Growth retardation

  • Lower birth weight
  • Disproportional weight not due to nutrition, height
  • Weight below the 5th percentile

3) Central Nervous System Abnormalities  "neurodevelopmental"

  • Impaired fine motor skills,
  • Learning disabilities,
  • Behaviour disorders
  • Mental handicap (found in 50% of FAS)

To diagnose PFAS, only two of the three above criteria must be present and must include some facial features and brain differences. 

To diagnose ARND, only one of the above three criteria must be present and must be a brain difference. 

These fetal alcohol effects are often thought to be less damaging than the "full-blown" syndrome, however, they are often more debilitating to the person's quality of life. 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Effects are PERMANENT and cannot be outgrown.

FAS/FAE babies and young children may have other specific distinguishable features: 

  • Short stature
  • Small and thin
  • Hearing defects
  • Organ imperfections
  • Bone problems
  • Difficulty with eating
  • Difficulty developing a regular sleeping schedule
  • Difficulty learning how to walk
  • Difficulty learning toilet training
  • Impulsivity (i.e. running out into the street)
  • Hyperactivity

FAS/FAE children have learning disabilities, which include 

  • Difficulties in learning language and language use
  • Difficulties in generalizing information
  • Difficulties in mastering new or recently learned skills
  • Difficulties in recent memory (ie. yesterday events)
  • Difficulties inpredicting outcomes or cause and effect
  • Difficulties indistinguishing fact from fantasy
  • Difficulties in distinguishing friends from strangers
  • Donot learn from experience as they 
  • Do not understand cause and effect

FAS/FAE adults continue to have the same learning difficulties they had as youth, and also often have difficulty with:

  • Legal system (do not understand cause and effect)
  • Controlling alcohol consumption
  • Maintaining custody of their children
  • Mental health issues
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