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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: What You Need To Know

For decades, alcohol use during pregnancy has been linked to miscarriage, stillbirth, and developmental disorders. One group of disorders, in particular, is fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) which, depending on the severity, may include any mix of physical defects and cognitive disabilities. Even with all of this knowledge of the damage alcohol can cause in pregnant women, a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows as many as 1 in 9 U.S. women reported drinking alcohol while pregnant. And not only did about 10% of pregnant women report using alcohol, but about one-third of them reported binge-drinking. 

This report highlights an even greater issue that lies beneath the statistics – our nation’s dysfunctional relationship to alcohol, despite its consequences. However, for the purposes of this article, it’s important to establish that no level of alcohol is safe during pregnancy and to understand the detrimental effects of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. 

Consequences of FASD 

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a range of life-long outcomes resulting from alcohol’s impact on a developing baby’s brain. The most severe type of FASD on the spectrum is known as fetal alcohol syndrome. The severity of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) symptoms vary, with some children experiencing symptoms to a greater degree than others and the defects are not reversible. Common signs and symptoms of FAS according to the Mayo Clinic include:

Brain and central nervous system issues which may include:

  • Issues with attention and processing information.
  • Poor balance and coordination.
  • Memory problems.
  • Difficulty with reasoning and problem-solving.
  • Intellectual disability, learning disorders and delayed development.

Physical defects: 

  • Slow physical growth before and after birth.
  • Exceptionally thin upper lip, small eyes, a short, upturned nose, and a smooth skin surface between the nose and upper lip.
  • Joint, limb and finger deformity.

Social and behavioral issues:

  • Poor socialization skills.
  • Difficulty adapting to change. 
  • Problems with behavior and impulse control.
  • Poor concept of time and problems staying on task.

Addiction and Treatment

If you’re pregnant and can’t stop drinking, ask for help. While there is no cure for addiction, it is treatable and there is hope in recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help today. Do not let the stigma of addiction and mental health prevent you from getting the help you need. Once you are in recovery from addiction or a substance use disorder, you can go on to live a healthy new lifestyle in sobriety for you and your baby. Take the first step and contact us today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.

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