Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Alcohol, even in small amounts, can lead to a wide range of developmental issues and physical disability including FASD, which is an umbrella term for several diagnoses that are all related to prenatal exposure to alcohol. FASD is a series of preventable birth defects caused entirely by drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy. The term 'spectrum' is used because individual babies or children with FASD may have some or all of a spectrum of mental and physical problems.

The range of characteristics associated with FASD varies in severity and clinical outcome depending on the level, patterm. adn timing of maternal alcohol consumption. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), the most clinically recognisable form of FASD, exhibits the full range of characteristics including:

  • Restricted growth
  • Facial abnormalities
  • Learning and behavioural disorders

Some of these features may have lifelong implications and affect other life stages as they develop. These include disrupted school performance and psychiatric and substance misuse problems. It is important to emphasise the potential for harm with pregnant women but also encourage and support the potential for change.


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