Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Symptom, Cause, Risk, Prevention


Fetal alcohol syndrome occurs due to excessive consumption of alcohol by any mother during pregnancy. It impacts the fetus to a great extent. It hampers its overall mental and physical growth of the child. This happens as the fetus is unable to process the alcohol like the adult. And as a result it gets malnourished.

Excess consumption of alcohol blocks the nutrition and oxygen reaching out to the fetus. It leaves it ill-nourished. Eventually the child’s nervous system gets infested by fetal alcohol syndrome. It is a life-long problem for the child.

However, not all fetal alcohol syndromes are similar. The severity of it varies a lot. Some children get into more serious condition than the others. There are many signs and symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome.

Read More: 25 Things to Avoid During Pregnancy

Signs and Symptoms

There are various forms of signs and symptoms as far as fetal alcohol syndrome is concerned. The symptoms range from being physical defects, to nervous system problems and also social behavioral problems.

Physical Symptoms

  • Babies born with this syndrome has a distinctive facial feature including smaller eyes. The upper lip seems distinctly thin and short. There is also a smooth surface present between the nose and the upper lip.
  • There are also visible deformities in the joints of limbs and also fingers.
  • The babies experience a slow physical birth rate than other kids.
  • The kids might experience visual or hearing difficulties.
  • The head circumference is smaller and so is the brain size of these children.
  • The kids also face problems with their hearts and kidneys. The bones are also sometimes very brittle.

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Nervous System Signs

  • The child is prone to poor coordination and balance.
  • There can be instances of learning disorders and intellectual disability.
  • The memory of the child tends to be poor.
  • The attention span will be less. There will be problems with processing any command or information.
  • The child will lack in problem solving ability and processing of any given information.
  • The child will be unable to understand consequences of given choices.
  • The child might show poor judgmental ability.
  • There can be signs of jitteriness or hyperactivity shown by the child.
  • There can be instances of rapid mood swings shown by the child.

Social and Behavioral Signs

  • The child will find it difficult to adjust in schools.
  • He/she will find it problematic to deal with others of his/her age.
  • In general these kids have poor social skills.
  • The kids will have a difficult time adapting to changes or switching from one task to the other.
  • There will be general problem with controlling impulse
  • They would not develop proper concept of time, with age.
  • They will have difficulties in staying on or concentrating on one certain task.
  • They will have problems with goal orientation and chalking out steps towards achieving the goal.

These are few of the basic symptoms which is visible in children who are suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome.

Causes of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

If you are pregnant and you are consuming alcohol the chances of fetal alcohol syndrome increases. Following are the major causes which lead to this disease in your child:

  • The alcohol passes through your blood and reaches the placenta
  • The blood alcohol concentration becomes higher in your baby’s body than yours.
  • The alcohol content in your blood disrupts the supply of oxygen in your placenta. For that reason your fetus also does not get the nutrition or the oxygen to develop properly.
  • Exposure of your child to alcohol hampers the growth of any tissue or organ. This might cause a permanent brain damage.

The more you drink, whilst being pregnant, the greater is the risk of your child suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. However, it should be noted that any amount of alcohol is risky for your child. It might expose your baby’s heart, blood tissues and brain to severe risk. Even little bit of drinking is also not safe, in that case.

Read More: Prevent Autism during Pregnancy

Prevention Mechanism

Since cure is difficult to get prevention is the only means. As the experts say that there is no safe amount of alcohol that you can consume which will guarantee that your baby will not be affected. For that reason stop consuming alcohol completely if any of the following is true:

  • You are tested positive as pregnant
  • You think that you might be pregnant but not sure
  • You are trying to get pregnant and planning about it

Precaution is always better than cure but in this case it is the only mean.


Further Complications

If your child is diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome then your child can suffer from further complications in his/her life. The following are the complications which arise from this syndrome:

  • Attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder or better known as ADHD can happen to your child as he/she grows up.
  • Tendency of breaking law and showing aggression towards others is another further problem that can arise.
  • He/she can suffer from alcohol or drug abuse
  • Your child can grow serious mental health disorders and suffer from problems like anxiety or depression.
  • Your child might face problems in staying and completing his school.
  • His/her sexual behavior might turn out to be aggressive
  • There can be problems with employments also.
  • Tendencies of homicide and suicides are also not rare in these cases.

Read More: 15 Things You Shouldn’t Do During Pregnancy

Coping Strategies

Even if your child is born with fetal alcohol syndrome then also there are a number of ways by which you can make him/her improve his/her social skills. Follow the following steps to ease out your child’s anxiety and problems:

  • Understand your child’s strengths and his/her limitations
  • Structure a daily routine for your child
  • Make simpler rules so that your child can follow them properly
  • Repeat the routine on a daily basis so that he/she gets to learn the rules
  • Reward acceptable behavior which will enable them to learn and understand
  • Equipping them with skills of social interactions
  • Guarding your children from being exploited or misbehaved, especially in the school

Always take your doctor’s suggestion and work alongside him/her. It is advisable that if your child is diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome then you keep him/her under close monitoring so that he/she can enjoy the best from the life.