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Fetal alcohol syndrome UF Health, University of Florida Health

If you have an alcohol problem, get help before you get pregnant. Get professional help to determine your level of dependence on alcohol and to develop a treatment plan. Efforts are also underway to prevent babies from being born with FASD. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promotes two strategies to reduce alcohol-exposed pregnancies. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a 30-bed referral center for critically ill infants requiring complex medical and surgical care.

Is fetal alcohol syndrome always obvious?

(Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the disorders that falls under FASD.) Though the effects of FASD are not always obvious at birth, they do have long-term effects, including physical defects, behavioural problems, difficulties with learning and mood issues.

For obvious ethical reasons, formal studies on the effects of alcohol on human brain development are limited. Most of our data come from animal models and associations with alcohol exposure. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder refers to the range of problems caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol . Diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome is given to infants with characteristic findings born to women who used alcohol excessively during pregnancy. They can be even more sensitive to disruptions in routine than an average child.

Is there a safe time during pregnancy when a woman can drink alcohol?

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, some of that alcohol easily passes across the placenta to the fetus. The body of a developing fetus doesn’t process alcohol the same way as an adult does. The alcohol is more concentrated in the fetus, and it can prevent enough nutrition and oxygen from getting to the fetus’s vital organs.

  • The primary disabilities of FAS are the functional difficulties with which the child is born as a result of CNS damage due to prenatal alcohol exposure.
  • Several organizations and state agencies in the U.S. are dedicated to this type of intervention.
  • There is no known safe limit of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
  • Alcohol exposure in utero increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, decreases birth weight, and can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, a constellation of variable physical and cognitive abnormalities.
  • Science indicates that therapeutic interventions, special education and support services improve outcomes for patients and families.
  • A known history of alcohol consumption during the pregnancy aids in diagnosis but is not required for diagnosis of an FASD.

Ocular signs present earlier than signs of growth retardation and brain and neurobehavioral involvement and thus can be useful in aiding the early diagnosis of FAS. Ophthalmologic abnormalities such as refractive errors, strabismus, and fundus abnormalities seem to remain unchanged and persistent throughout childhood and adolescence. More recent studies have shown FAS to have a prevalence as high as 98.5 per 1,000 in certain US populations. The estimated lifetime cost on average for an individual with FAS in 2002 was $2 million. The four categories of the FASD spectrum are Fetal Alcohol Syndrome , Partial FAS , Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder , and Alcohol-related Birth Defects . Confirmation of prenatal alcohol exposure is required to determine all types of FASD, except for the most severe , which is determined by observable measurements taken by a trained pediatric specialist.

How is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) diagnosed?

A working knowledge of the key features is helpful in understanding FASD diagnoses and conditions, and each is reviewed with attention to similarities and differences across the four diagnostic systems. The mechanism for the spectrum of adverse effects on virtually all organ systems of the developing fetus is unknown. Ethanol and its metabolite acetaldehyde can alter fetal development by disrupting cellular differentiation and growth, disrupting DNA and protein synthesis and inhibiting cell migration. Both ethanol and acetaldehyde modify the intermediary metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Both also decrease the transfer of amino acids, glucose, folic acid, zinc, and other nutrients across the placental barrier, indirectly affecting fetal growth due to intrauterine nutrient deprivation. Elevated levels of erythropoietin in the cord blood of newborns exposed to alcohol are reported and suggest a state of chronic fetal hypoxia. A study showed that the 6-week intervention improved both math skills and behavior in alcohol-affected children ages 3 to 10 (Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2009).

fetal alcohol syndrome

Because the presentation of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders can vary so widely, and because of recent changes to the diagnostic criteria that define these conditions, the exact prevalence is difficult to determine. Across the United States, in the 1980s and 1990s, fetal alcohol syndrome was estimated to occur in the range of 0.5 to 2 cases per 1000 live births. However, it is widely accepted that these studies underreported the problem as the other conditions that comprise fetal alcohol spectrum disorders were not defined at the time and thus not recognized. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders range from 24 to 48 cases per 1000. The higher ends of these ranges are seen in high-risk populations such as those with low socioeconomic status and those of racial and ethnic minority populations. The prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome has been reported to be as high as 1.5% among children in the foster care system.

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