Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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Other Names :  

Foetal alcohol syndrome, FAS

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome ?  

Foetal alcohol syndrome, a congenital condition, is a complication of excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy that affects the physical and mental development of the child. The alcohol crosses placental barrier and causes stunted fetal growth, creates distinctive facial stigmata, damages neurons and brain structures and causes other physical damage.

Cause(s) :  Excessive alcohol consumption of the mother during pregnancy causes the disorder in the growing fetus.

Symptoms :  
Growth deficiencies:
  • Below average height and/or weight
  • Low birth weight
  • Developmental delay

Physical symptoms: (A few of these symptoms are present)
  • Facial abnormalities like flattened cheek bones, underdeveloped groove between nose and upper lip)
  • Heart murmur (disappears by one year of age), Ventricular septal defect and/or atrial septal defect, tetralogy of Fallot, coarctation of the aorta
  • Joint abnormalities
  • Kidney abnormalities
  • Strabismus, light sensitivity, involuntary eye movements, decreased visual acuity
  • Cleft lip or palate
  • Spina bifida
  • Hydrocephalus

Cognitive symptoms:
  • Learning difficulties
  • Poor language development
  • Poor short term memory
  • Inability to understand instructions
  • Egocentricity
  • Problems in social interaction
  • Poor planning and problem solving
  • Hyperactivity and attention deficits
  • Unable to differentiate reality and fiction
Diagnosis and Tests :  
History of prenatal exposure to alcohol

Physical Examination:
  • Growth deficiency
  • FAS facial features
  • CNS Damage
IQ tests and psychological testing:
  • Blood test
  • Brain CT and MRI
  • Pregnancy Ultrasound
Specialist to consult :  Neurology

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