22 Interesting Facts About Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Here Are the Top 22 Interesting Facts About Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS):

#1 It is one of several conditions, known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which result from alcohol exposure during the mother’s pregnancy.

#2 Individuals with FAS may have problems with their hearing, memory, vision, attention span, and capabilities to communicate and learn. This can happen due to the fact that alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to her developing fetus through the placenta.

#3 The amount of alcohol ingested during pregnancy to cause the syndrome is still unknown, however, women should completely avoid alcoholic beverages during pregnancy.

#4 The lack of awareness of the effects of alcohol as a teratogen (a substance that may cause birth defects) on a developing fetus is probably the main reason for the high incidence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

#5 FAS is the more severe end of a continuum of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. FASDs also include:

  • neurobehavioral disorder – it refers to neurological problems which develop in children who were exposed to alcohol in utero;
  • alcohol-related birth defects – they are physical disabilities that can occur with prenatal alcohol exposure;
  • alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder – it refers to the learning and behavioral disabilities linked with alcohol intake in pregnancy.


#6 In the United States and some Western European countries, an estimated 2 to 5 percent of school children have the syndrome.

#7 According to a 2018 study that was conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders among first-graders in four North American communities ranged from 1.1 to 5.0 percent.

#8 The lifetime cost for one individual with the syndrome is estimated to be around $2 million.

#9 According to a 2017 study that was published in The Lancet Global Health, 119,000 children are born with FAS every year.

Symptoms & Characteristics

#10 The severity of the symptoms ranges from mild to severe, and can include:

  • mood swings;
  • a small head;
  • deformed fingers or limbs;
  • kidney abnormalities and defects;
  • heart problems;
  • a very thin upper lip;
  • small and wide-set eyes;
  • a smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose;
  • intellectual disability;
  • below average height and weight;
  • learning disabilities;
  • problems seeing or hearing;
  • hyperactivity;
  • poor judgment;
  • delayed development and problems with thinking;
  • poor coordination;
  • lack of focus.


#11 Complications from FAS include:

  • substance abuse disorders;
  • ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder);
  • anxiety;
  • depression.


#12 When a pregnant woman drinks alcoholic beverages, alcohol passes through the placental circulation to the unborn baby and can affect his health.

#13 Within 2 hours of maternal ingestion, fetal alcohol blood levels are similar (or higher) to maternal alcohol blood levels. The presence of alcohol in utero interferes with the delivery of nutrition and oxygen to a developing fetus’s growing organs and tissues, including the brain.

#14 Alcohol also constricts blood vessels, which slows blood flow to the placenta (a structure that develops inside the uterus during pregnancy and is responsible for protecting and nourishing a fetus during pregnancy).

#15 Moreover, alcohol can kill cells in different parts of the fetus, leading to abnormal physical development.

#16 There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. According to studies, any quantity of alcohol can negatively affect an unborn baby. Plus, it increases the risk of miscarriage.

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Risk Factors

#17 Common risk factors include:

  • resources available to the mother;
  • genetic susceptibility – some people are more susceptible to FAS than others;
  • the mother’s general health;
  • low socioeconomic status – it is strongly associated with a higher incidence of FAS;
  • amount and frequency of alcohol intake;
  • the mother’s nutrition;
  • maternal anxiety and emotional stress during pregnancy;
  • the timing of alcohol use during the pregnancy;
  • smoking tobacco and secondhand-smoking during pregnancy.

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#18 There is no lab test that can prove an infant has the condition. But, the following criteria qualify for a diagnosis:

  • prenatal alcohol exposure – confirmed or unknown prenatal alcohol exposure;
  • central nervous system (CNS) damage – clinically significant neurological, structural, or functional impairment;
  • FAS facial features – all 3 FAS facial features are present;
  • growth deficiency – prenatal or postnatal height or weight at or below the 10th percentile.


#19 There is no cure for FAS. However, numerous treatment and support options exist for patients with FASD, including:

  • therapy that can help with educational and behavioral problems;
  • alternative approaches, including creative art therapy, auditory training (“learning to listen”), and meditation;
  • education and support for caregivers and families;
  • parents can get training to help their children;
  • medication to ease some of the symptoms, like – anxiety, inability to focus, or hyperactivity;
  • physical therapy;
  • occupational therapy.


#20 As children with the syndrome mature into adolescence, the craniofacial deformities become less noticeable, however, the microcephaly (the head is smaller than expected) and short stature remain.


#21 FAS is completely avoidable if a woman does not consume alcoholic beverages while she is pregnant or when she might get pregnant. It is important for a woman to avoid alcohol when she may get pregnant since she could get pregnant and not know for around 5 weeks. In the US, nearly fifty percent of pregnancies are unplanned.

#22 Therefore, if you are aware that you are pregnant or think you could be pregnant, you should not consume alcohol.

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