Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a set of physical, behavioral, and learning problems that your baby may have if you drink alcohol while you are pregnant.
Drinking any amount of beer, wine, or hard liquor while you are pregnant can cause FAS. The more you drink, the greater the chance your baby will be born with problems. There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant.
The problems caused by drinking alcohol are different throughout your pregnancy. If you drink:
Not all babies whose mothers drink during pregnancy are born with FAS. It is not understood why some babies are born with problems and others are not.
Symptoms may include:
More than a third of children with FAS develop drug and alcohol problems by the time they are young adult. Many have anger control problems and may be violent. They are at high risk for getting into trouble with the law.
A healthcare provider can diagnose FAS by:
It is very important to get help early. Young children who get help early may need less help when they are older.
Some problems caused by FAS can be treated. For example, heart problems can often be helped by surgery. Plastic surgery can help correct severe face deformities.
Special education can help if your child has learning or behavior problems. There are many types of services that schools offer through special education. These include:
All public schools in the United States offer special classes for students with learning problems who are between the ages of 3 and 19.
Seeing a mental health therapist can help you and your child deal with depression, learning disabilities, aggression, anger, or hyperactivity.
Medicine may be prescribed to help with some behaviors and symptoms.
FAS can only be prevented by not drinking during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant.
If you suspect that your baby has FAS, or any of the problems listed above, get professional help. Children with FAS need early diagnosis and medical treatment.
See a mental health professional to help you cope with your stress. Most parents find advice on handling difficult behavior and feelings very helpful.
If you know a woman who is pregnant and drinking, talk with her about stopping drinking. If she has a problem with repeated drinking, a medical or mental health professional may be able to help her quit.
You may want to contact: