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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome



What is it:

Fetal alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a leading cause of mental retardation. FAS is a cluster of birth defects that develop in infants of women who consume alcoholic beverages while pregnant. Defects include prenatal and postnatal growth deficiency, facial malformations, central nervous system dysfunction and varying degrees of major organ malfunctions. When mothers drink alcohol while pregnant, their babies could have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). FAS and FAE are a group of birth defects that have no cure. People with FAS and FAE have a range of problems as severe as being mentally retarded to less visible problems like difficulty paying attention in school. The diagnosed cases of FAS is estimated to be one to three per 1,000 live births. One in 100 Americans is affected by FAS/FAE. There is no know safe amount of alcohol for a pregnant woman. When a woman drinks, her baby drinks because the alcohol passes directly through the placenta to the baby.

Cause of the Problem:

Alcohol in a pregnant woman's bloodstream circulates to the fetus by crossing the placenta. There, the alcohol interferes with the ability of the fetus to receive sufficient oxygen and nourishment for normal cell development in the brain and other body organs


FAS and other prenatal alcohol-related conditions are completely preventable – if a woman does not drink alcohol while she is pregnant or could become pregnant. If a woman is drinking during pregnancy, it is never too late for her to stop. The sooner a woman stops drinking, the better it will be for both her baby and herself.Mothers are not the only ones who can prevent FAS. The father’s role is also important in helping the woman abstain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy.


  • There is no cure for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • When a pregnant women drinks alcohol, her baby does too.
  • Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) impair a child's lifetime
    ability to function mentally, physically and socially and to be the best that they can be.
  • A national survey found that more than half of women age 15-44 drank while pregnant
  • Of the women who reported drinking during their pregnancy, 66% reported drinking in their first trimester; 54% reported drinking in their third trimester
  • Fetal alcohol exposure may increase the risk for later alcohol, tobacco, and drug dependence in adults
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is considered the most common nonhereditary cause of mental retardation