Fetal Alcohol Syndrome



Fetal Alcohol Syndrome



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Project done by Venu Parimi, Jennifer Dachel, Pamela Larson, & Anuradha Nair for Environmental Toxicology (ENPH 490/690) class in Fall 2003 at University Of Wisconsin at Eau Claire

General Effects of Alcohol on Pregnant Women


Alcohol use during pregnancy may damage a developing fetus. The possibility, extent, and type of damage depends on the amount of alcohol use; the frequency of use; and the fetus's genetic susceptibility. The Effects of alcohol on Pregnant women are classified as follows:

Classification of Alcohol Effects on Pregnant Women: Alcoholic individuals who become pregnant are in a high risk category for delivery of an infant with  Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD), Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARND) or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) together know as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum of Disorders.

1) Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD):- comprise of a diverse array of physical defects: skeletal abnormalities, heart defects, cleft palate and other craniofacial abnormalities, kidney and other internal organ problems, vision and hearing problems.

2).Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARND) or Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) are characterized by organic brain damage, and some physical malformations, but mental retardation is not always present.

3).Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS): is a cluster of non-curable brain disorders and physical malformations, including mental retardation, caused by alcohol drinking by women at the time of pregnancy. The effects of FAS are life long. It is the most commonly-known preventable cause of birth defects that result in mental retardation.

 Risk Factors: Epidemiological studies of FAS, ARBD and ARND, as well as studies of alcohol abusing and dependent women consistently point out the following list of same risk factors. These risk factors represent a variety of conditions that are frequently associated with the birth of a child with FAS or Another alcohol-related  condition (ARBD or ARND)

Table 1 Common Risk Factors Associated With Heavy Maternal Drinking, FAS,

Influential Element
Maternal Risk Factor
Health Older than age 25 when FAS child is born
Already has three or more children when FAS child is born
Use of other drugs, including tobacco and illicit substances
Morbidity or premature mortality from alcohol-related causes
status ( SES)
Social transience
Unemployment or marginal employment
Drinking pattern Early age at onset of regular drinking
Frequent binge drinking ( i. e. , consuming five or more drinks
per occasion 2 or more days per week)
Frequent drinking ( i. e. , every day or every weekend)
High blood alcohol concentration
No reduction in drinking during pregnancy
Psychological profile Low self-esteem
Sexual dysfunction
Family social traits Alcohol misuse in family
Alcohol misuse by the woman s male partner
Tenuous marital status ( i. e. , cohabitation, never married,
separated, or divorced)
Loss of children to foster or adoptive placement
Local culture and community Relatively tolerant of heavy drinking
ARBD = alcohol-related birth defects; ARND = alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder; FAS = fetal alcohol syndrome.
SOURCES: Adapted from NIAAA 2000; see also Stratton et al. 1996; Abel 1998 b .


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Last updated: 12/08/03.