Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis

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. First-line treatments for children with ADHD and FAS include methylphenidate- and amphetamine-derived stimulants. One study found life expectancy is significantly reduced compared 4 ways to stop alcohol cravings to people without FAS (most often due to external causes such as suicide, accidents, or overdose of alcohol or drugs). Although more research is necessary, some studies show that the craniofacial differences of people with FAS may improve during or after adolescence. The traits most likely to persist are a thin upper lip and a smaller head circumference.

How can I prevent fetal alcohol syndrome?

Physicians must accurately obtain the medical history of the mother and provide safe antenatal care and education for FAS once maternal alcohol consumption is confirmed. If the prevalence of FAS is decreased, it will be possible to reduce the financial burden on society and unrealized human suffering [12]. Not all infants exposed to alcohol in utero will have detectable FASD or pregnancy complications. 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.

Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Ask your health care provider, social worker or mental health professional for local sources of support for children with fetal alcohol syndrome and their families. FASDs are preventable if a baby is not exposed to alcohol before birth. In this way, we should establish a big data cohort at the national and social levels that enables accurate diagnosis and sustainable follow-up of FAS to prevent FAS through a multidisciplinary approach.

Partial fetal alcohol syndrome (pFAS)

FAS is a long-term disability that affects children from birth. It occurs when a fetus becomes exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. Early detection and treatment can help children learn vital skills and improve their chances of being able to live independently as adults. The new findings represent more accurate prevalence estimates of FASD among general U.S. communities than prior research.

FAS-related features that can be identified by prenatal ultrasonography include fetal growth restrictions, microcephaly, and extremity and heart malformations. If characteristic features of FAS are seen during antenatal care, other common causes (e.g., infection, genetic factors, placental insufficiency, and other teratogens) should be differentially diagnosed first. If fetal growth restriction or microcephaly appears, the patterns and degrees of growth 5 keys to going alcohol-free restriction should be documented [12]. It is necessary to suspect and evaluate maternal alcohol consumption in cases of fetal growth restriction with microcephaly. During the maternal interview, we should investigate not only maternal alcohol intake but also medical history, nutrition, husband’s alcohol use, and home environment. Low educational level and unplanned pregnancy are significant risk factors for alcohol consumption in pregnant women [9].

The main criteria for diagnosis of FASD is nervous system damage and alcohol exposure, with FAS including congenital malformations of the lips and growth deficiency. 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. If a baby has exposure to alcohol in the womb, they can develop a range of conditions known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).

Marijuana smoking can increase the level of carbon monoxide in the mother’s body, causing hypoxia and thus increasing the risk of FAS [37]. Cocaine causes uterine artery vasoconstriction and exacerbates hypoxic fetal conditions [37]. Brain damage in infants with FAS includes microcephaly, agenesis of the corpus callosum and anterior commissure, and anomalies in the cerebellum and brainstem [40]. According to Olney [41], the administration of a single high dose of ethanol to neonatal rats significantly reduced the thickness of the corpus callosum. Alcohol disrupts the rapid growth of the brain in the 3rd trimester of gestational age, which is characterized by glial development, synaptogenesis, and development of the cerebellum [27,42]. Thus, prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to learning and memory deficits, as well as long-term and neurobehavioral dysfunction [42,43].

To diagnose someone with FAS, the doctor must determine that they have abnormal facial features, slower than normal growth, and central nervous system problems. These nervous system problems could be physical or behavioral. They might present as hyperactivity, lack of coordination or focus, or learning disabilities.

  1. FAS-related features that can be identified by prenatal ultrasonography include fetal growth restrictions, microcephaly, and extremity and heart malformations.
  2. Almost all experts recommend that the mother abstain from alcohol use during pregnancy to prevent FASDs.
  3. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all of the information provided to you during an appointment, especially if you’ve been told that there may be something wrong with your child.
  4. Alcohol is broken down more slowly in the immature body of the fetus than in an adult’s body.
  5. This gives the parents a break so they can take care of other family needs.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider about services in your area. 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. 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.

FAS and FASD result from prenatal alcohol exposure and are related to physical malformations and intellectual disabilities [13,14]. Children with FAS have CNS abnormalities, pre- or postnatal growth impairment, and characteristic facial abnormalities [12,13]. CNS abnormalities include microcephaly, tremors, hyperactivity, lack of motor skills, does alcohol thin your blood effects and impact deficits in attention, learning difficulties, intellectual or cognitive impairment, and seizures [12]. Facial abnormalities include short palpebral fissures, epicanthal folds, flat midface, hypoplastic philtrum, and a thin upper vermilion border (Fig. 1) [12,13]. Children with FAS are commonly diagnosed 48.3 months after birth [14].

Because there is no cure for FAS, it is crucial that women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant do not drink alcohol. While there is no cure for FAS, therapy and early intervention services can help a child reach his full potential. This exposure typically occurs when a pregnant person drinks alcohol, and it enters the fetus’s bloodstream through the umbilical cord. Although there is no treatment for FAS, there are strategies that can improve its symptoms. If you are consuming alcohol and trying to become pregnant or you are currently pregnant, reach out to a healthcare provider for help quitting. In FY2022, NIAAA allocated approximately 8% of its extramural research and training budget, or roughly $35 million, for its portfolio of FASD-related grants.

The increasing rate of child-bearing-aged women who consume alcohol can be considered to increase the chance of alcohol exposure during pregnancy, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Thus, the potential prevalence of FAS may also increase in Korea. FASD is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure, which is the leading preventable cause of congenital conditions in the United States. There are currently five types of FASD, including FAS, diagnosed by prenatal alcohol exposure, craniofacial dysmorphology, growth impairment, and neurodevelopmental problems.

This can lead to deficits after birth and beyond.2,3 Alcohol can disrupt development at any stage, even before a woman knows that she is pregnant. If you’ve already consumed alcohol during pregnancy, it’s never too late to stop. Brain growth in the fetus takes place throughout pregnancy, so stopping alcohol consumption as soon as possible is always best. Parental training is meant to help parents to help families cope with behavioral, educational and social challenges. Parents might learn different routines and rules that can help their child adapt to different situations. Often, having a stable and supportive home can help children with FAS avoid developing mental and emotional difficulties as they get older.

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