Skip to site content

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

FASD Prevention

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is the leading known preventable cause of permanent learning disability worldwide and is caused by maternal use of alcohol during pregnancy. Avoiding alcohol during pregnancy and when trying to become pregnant is the only way to be sure that the baby will not be affected by FASD. FASDs are completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is one of the most serious consequences of heavy drinking during pregnancy. FAS is a devastating group of birth defects characterized by malformations of the skull and face, neurological and movement problems, intrauterine growth retardation, learning disabilities, and behavioral and social problems. It is estimated that for every child born with FAS, three additional children are born who may not have the physical characteristics of FAS, but who, as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure, still experience neurobehavioral deficits that affect learning and behavior.

Fetal alcohol exposure occurs when a woman drinks alcohol while pregnant. Alcohol can disrupt, or interfere with the development of the fetus (baby) at any stage during pregnancy including at the earliest stages before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

Research shows that binge drinking, which for women means drinking four or more drinks per occasion, and heavy drinking, puts a fetus at the greatest risk for severe problems. But even lesser amounts can cause damage. In fact, there is no known safe level of alcohol that a pregnant woman can drink, and no safe type of alcohol (wine, beer, distilled spirits or hard liquor).

Related Links:

FASD Patient Education for Expectant Mothers and Parents

Resources include downloadable brochures and fact sheets.

Other FASD Resources

FASD Resources for Providers

Tips for Talking to Women About Drinking

Screening and Assessment Tools for Alcohol Use

FASD Referral Sources

Additional FASD Provider Resources