Addiction A-Z

Fetal alcohol syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) was first recognized by the medical field during the 1960s, and is considered to be the most preventable cause of birth defects. FAS affects an approximated 0.2 to 1.5 out of 1,000 births; however, this statistic is believed to be underestimated. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are caused by the mother’s consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, thereby exposing the developing fetus to the effects of alcohol. FASD is a general categorization of alcohol-related birth defects including FAS, partial fetal alcohol syndrome (PFAS), alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD). In this broader range, FASD affects as much as 1 in 100 births each year. FAS is the leading cause of mental retardation in the U.S., and remains one of the leading causes of birth defects, causing more behavioral defects than the effects of maternal cocaine, marijuana, and heroin consumption. The effects of FASD may include: facial malformations; insufficient growth; heart, kidney and lung defects; joint abnormalities; behavioral disorders; hyperactivity; attention deficit disorder; poor coordination and motor skills; memory and retention problems; poor judgment and problem-solving skills; mental retardation and learning disabilities. Maternal alcohol consumption doubles the chance of miscarriage, and can also result in low birth weight, premature birth, and infant mortality.

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