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About Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

FAS is a devastating birth defect characterized by craniofacial malformations, neurological and motor deficits, intrauterine growth retardation, learning disabilities, and behavioral and social deficits. FAS is one of the most serious consequences of heavy drinking during pregnancy. However, negative outcomes of prenatal alcohol exposure cover a broad range of human structures and functions and there is great variability in the severity of the deficits. The scope of disabilities and malformation varies and depends on such exposure factors as amount of alcohol, frequency of exposure, stage of development when alcohol is present, and probably individual variation in sensitivity and both maternal and fetal alcohol metabolism. The umbrella term "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)" is now used to characterize the full range of prenatal alcohol damage varying from mild to severe and encompassing a broad array of physical defects and cognitive, behavioral, and emotional deficits. It refers to conditions such as: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), including partial FAS (pFAS); Fetal alcohol effects (FAE); Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND); and Alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD).

More extensive information on FAS and FASD can be found by using search terms such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Prenatal Alcohol Exposure, FAS, and FASD in the NIAAA Web site and the Web sites of ICCFAS member agencies.





Updated: June 2006

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