About FAS

Learning about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Google Fetal Alcohol Syndrome you’re likely to find the following acronyms: ARND, FAE, FAS, and FASD.

ARND: Alcohol Related Neurological Disorder
FAE: Fetal Alcohol Effect
FAS: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
FASD: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Simply put, it is organic brain damage and may include physical markers caused by exposure to alcohol in the womb.

“Alcohol causes birth defects in babies. There is no treatment for fetal alcohol syndrome. The damage has already been done because the baby was exposed to alcohol in utero,” said Dr. Thomas Riley, medical director of Sisters of Charity Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.” Thin lip, small head, probably some brain abnormalities, and these babies go on to develop developmental delay.” WISHTV.COM

A diagnosis of FAS, fetal alcohol syndrome, or FASD, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, usually includes physical and mental aspects. Because of the timing of the alcohol exposure, different functions are impacted. Neurological damage can affect each child differently, but common traits include learning difficulties, poor memory, inability to understand concepts such as time and money, poor language comprehension, and poor problem-solving skills.

Dealing with the aforementioned challenges can lead to secondary conditions that may develop as a result of their syndrome such as outbursts, hyperactivity, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, stubbornness, impulsiveness, depression, and anxiety. Poor socialization skills, such as difficulty building and maintaining friendships and relating to groups further compound their attempts at fitting in. They are also at risk of being susceptible to persuasion and manipulation.

Invisible Disabilities

Kids with FAE, fetal alcohol effect, and ARND, Alcohol Related Neurological Disorder are frequently undiagnosed. These children exhibit the behavioral and emotional problems of FAS/FASD without signs of development delay or physical growth deficiencies. These children are left with an invisible disability that sets them up for disapproval by peers and adults. Often the behaviors can appear as mere belligerence or stubbornness. Their behavioral deficits often interfere with their ability to succeed. The impact of the brain damage can be heartbreaking and devastating to the child, family, educators, and caregivers.

Prevention

FAS is a 100% preventable birth defect. Recently the US Centers for Disease Control posted:

Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), which are physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that last a lifetime. More than 3 million US women are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, having sex, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy. About half of all US pregnancies are unplanned and, even if planned, most women do not know they are pregnant until they are 4-6 weeks into the pregnancy. This means a woman might be drinking and exposing her developing baby to alcohol without knowing it. Alcohol screening and counseling helps people who are drinking too much to drink less. It is recommended that women who are pregnant or might be pregnant not drink alcohol at all. FASDs do not occur if a developing baby is not exposed to alcohol before birth.

Cure

There is no cure for organic brain damage. Diane Malbin, founder of FASCETS: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Consultation, Education and Training Services, says the goal is to increase understanding of FASD as a brain-based physical disability, thereby preventing secondary defensive behaviors and improving outcomes.

Information linking brain function with behaviors increases understanding, reduces frustration, and contributes to successful outcomes. Knowledge about FASD provides a way to shift perceptions: Children may be understood as having a problem rather than being the problem.

FAS: Learn More