FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can result in a number of different physical, neurological and
mental effects that range in severity. These effects fall under the term “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)”,
which encompasses all the problems that result from prenatal alcohol exposure. The most known of these effects is
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). Fetal Alcohol Effects can also be separated into two
different categories: Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects
What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the most common causes of mental retardation and the only one
that is 100% preventable. The effects are irreversible and last a lifetime.
The effects of FAS include: mental retardation, malformations of the skeletal system and major
organ systems (specifically the heart and brain), growth deficiencies, central nervous system problems, poor motor
skills, mortality, and problems with learning, memory, social interaction, attention span, problem solving, speech
There are also facial features that are characteristic of babies with FAS. These features
include: small eyes, short or upturned nose, flat cheeks, and thin lips. These features fade as the child grows up,
but the child is left with a lifetime of difficulties trying to cope with other effects.
What are Fetal Alcohol Effects?
The two categories for Fetal Alcohol Effects are Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder
(ARND) and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD):
ARND describes the mental and behavioral impairments such as learning disabilities, poor school
performance, poor impulse control, and problems with memory, attention and/or judgment.
ARBD describes the malformations of the skeletal system and major organ systems such as defects
of the heart, kidneys, bones, and/or auditory system.
How is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome different from Fetal Alcohol
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a result of high doses of alcohol consumption during pregnancy such as
binge drinking and/or drinking on a regular basis. Fetal Alcohol Effects are a result of moderate drinking
throughout pregnancy. The effects of FAE are still irreversible and lifelong.
Is any amount of alcohol safe to drink?
There is no amount of alcohol that is safe to consume during your pregnancy, but the more
alcohol consumed, the greater the risk to your developing baby.
How can I prevent FAS and FAE?
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effects are 100% preventable for a woman who completely
abstains from alcohol during her pregnancy. Therefore, if you are aware that you are pregnant, trying to get
pregnant, or think you could be pregnant, you should not consume any amount of alcohol.