What are the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders?
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term for a spectrum of disorders caused by alcohol use during pregnancy. Each of these disorders are caused by the same thing–alcohol, however they vary in severity and some symptoms. So what are they? HealthyChildren.org has broken down some of them below:
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
FAS is on the most severe end of the FASD spectrum. It describes people with the greatest alcohol effects, causing signs and symptoms so distinct that the diagnosis is based on special measurements and findings in each of the 3 following areas:
- Three specific facial abnormalities: smooth philtrum (the area between nose and upper lip), thin upper lip, small palpebral fissures (the horizontal eye openings)
- Growth deficit (lower than average height, weight or both)
- Central nervous system (CNS) abnormalities (structural, neurologic, functional, or a combination of these)
Partial fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS)
When a person does not meet the full diagnostic criteria for FAS but has a history of prenatal alcohol exposure and some of the facial abnormalities, as well as a growth problem or CNS abnormalities that person is considered to have partial FAS (pFAS).
Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND)
People with ARND do not have abnormal facial features or growth problems, but do have problems with how their brain and nervous system were formed as well as how they function. These individuals may have:
In particular, a 2011 federally convened committee that reviewed the science noted that these children are most likely to have problems with neurocognitive development, adaptive functioning, and or behavior regulation.
Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD)
People with ARBD have problems with how some of their organs were formed and or how they function, including:
- Bones (possibly the spine)
These individual also may have one of the other FASDs.
Note: pFAS may also refer to Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) and both terms can be used interchangeably.
FASDs can only be officially diagnosed by a special team of health professionals. In NJ, FASD Diagnostic Centers have been created for just that purpose. View the list here. If you have a concern that your child may have an FASD speak with your pediatrician or contact a developmental pediatrician to share your concerns.
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