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.

  • Deficiencies are documented when height or weight falls at or below the 10th percentile of standardized growth charts appropriate to the population.
  • More than 1 million babies born annually in the United States are exposed to cocaine, alcohol, or tobacco before birth.
  • Extensive studies have demonstrated equivalent fetal and maternal alcohol concentrations, suggesting an unimpeded bidirectional movement of alcohol between the two compartments.
  • The lifetime costs of an individual with FAS were estimated to be two million USD in 2002.
  • From associations with alcohol exposure, we are aware that damage is widespread, causing not only a decrease in brain volume but also damage to structures within the brain.

The first was in 1973, on an infant who died shortly after birth. The examination revealed extensive brain damage, including microcephaly, migration anomalies, corpus callosum dysgenesis, and a massive neuroglial, leptomeningeal heterotopia covering the left hemisphere. Measurement of FAS facial features uses criteria developed by the University of Washington.

What causes fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)?

Structural abnormalities of the brain are observable, physical damage to the brain or brain structures caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Structural impairments may include microcephaly of two or more standard deviations below the average, or other abnormalities in brain structure (e.g., agenesis of the corpus callosum, cerebellar hypoplasia). Because early diagnosis may help reduce the risk of long-term problems for children with fetal alcohol syndrome, let your child’s doctor know if you drank alcohol while you were pregnant. The severity of fetal alcohol syndrome symptoms varies, with some children experiencing them to a far greater degree than others. Signs and symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome may include any mix of physical defects, intellectual or cognitive disabilities, and problems functioning and coping with daily life.

what is fetal alcohol syndrome

Cleveland Clinic Children’s is dedicated to the medical, surgical and rehabilitative care of infants, children and adolescents. Fetal alcohol syndrome isn’t curable, and the symptoms will impact your child throughout life. However, early treatment of some symptoms can lessen the severity and improve your child’s development. Toxic byproducts are produced when the body processes alcohol.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Complications

Definitions Access definitions for the range of conditions that can occur under the non-diagnostic term of FASD. Early childhood is a pivotal period of child development that begins before birth through age 8. The experiences and opportunities offered in early childhood lay the foundation for how children grow, learn, build relationships, fetal alcohol syndrome and prepare for school. There is no safe type of alcoholic beverage to consume while pregnant. For example, red wine is no safer than white wine, beer, or mixed drinks, since all contain alcohol. But since the alcohol is no longer available, your baby’s central nervous system becomes overstimulated causing the symptoms of withdrawal.

what is fetal alcohol syndrome