Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
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).
- FASD Fact Sheet – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
- National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) YouTube Channel – NOFAS
FASD Patient Education for Expectant Mothers and Parents
Resources include downloadable brochures and fact sheets.
- FASD Information for Women – CDC
- Information for Families – CDC
- FASD Center for Excellence – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Other FASD Resources
- CDC Alcohol Fact Sheets – CDC
- Alcohol and Health – NIAAA
FASD Resources for Providers
- The ARC FASD Conversation Guide for Healthcare Providers [PDF - 1.8 MB]
- FASD Information for Healthcare Providers – CDC
Tips for Talking to Women About Drinking
- Tips for Working with Women who Drink – American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG)