What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

2 min

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a group of birth defects and developmental disabilities caused in a child if the mother consumes any form of alcohol during her pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant.

Understanding this condition is very important to avoid any complications and give a good and healthy future for the next generation.

Let us take a look at the causes, symptoms, disabilities, diagnosis, and treatment of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAD).

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a severe form of a condition referred to as, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD’s).

CAUSES of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

  • This difference in the metabolization of alcohol in the adult and fetus is the main reason for developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Alcohol consumed during pregnancy crosses the placenta (an organ developed in the uterus which provides nutrients, oxygen and removes the waste products from the fetus and basically connects the mother and the fetus) and affects the baby.

The fetus metabolizes the alcohol slowly, this leads to the increased alcohol content in the blood, thus intoxicating the fetus for a longer duration. This difference in the metabolization of alcohol in the adult and fetus is the reason for developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.


We should understand that the problem caused in the fetus, is directly proportional to the amount, frequency, and time of consumption of alcohol by the mother.

For example, very small or insignificant amounts might not cause any visible facial abnormalities but might cause behavioral issues. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome causes many irreversible damages to the fetus thus affecting their quality of life.

The symptoms may widely be classified as Physical and Cognitive.

PHYSICAL symptoms include

  • A small head, certain heart defects, and kidney problems.
  • Defects of the vision are common, hearing issues, visibly slow growth, a low birth weight, joint, limb, and finger deformities .

COGNITIVE defects include

  • Poor judgement and memory, trouble processing information, poor behavior coordination and a range of learning disorders.
  • These kids show poor development, reasoning, problem solving skills, have hyperactivity issues like ADHD, rapid mood swings.
  • They exibit a great deal of trouble identifying consequences of an action.
  • In addition issues staying on a particular task and switching between them, and they have a very hard time socializing and exhibiting poor skills of the same.

DIAGNOSIS of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Diagnosis mainly involves a detailed history from the mother about consumption of alcohol, the diet pattern followed during pregnancy etc.

It also involves assessing the brain growth and development of the child

Assessing the social and behavioral problems of the child.


No specific form of treatment is available for FAS. The deformities that occur are permanent and irreversible and affects the child’s life and development. However the good news is early intervention might help.

  • Behavioral therapy for the child and good counseling and certain lifestyle modifications of the mother has proved very effective.
  • The doctor might prescribe certain medications to assist in further proper growth and avoiding certain major deformities.
  • Social skills development is an important form of treatment for kids affected by this condition.

Hence, it is very important to understand that, no time of pregnancy is safe to consume any form of alcohol.

No amount of alcohol is safe. This includes binging alcohol too.

So be wise and avoid alcohol during pregnancy and gift a sound mind and body to the next generation.

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Dr Kavitha M

I am an undergraduate degree holder in dentistry. I have a great interest in music and reading. I am a linguaphile. My areas of interest lie in psychology, medical imaging, diagnostics, and oncology. I am a person who focuses more on the emerging areas of forensics.


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