Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – How Alcoholism May Affect Your Baby

fetal alcohol syndrome symptoms

Parenthood is an overwhelming and fantastic experience. It’s a time of new challenges and immense joy. Parents strive to do everything they can to ensure their children are happy and healthy. Whether it is installing child safety gears, sanitizing every nook and cranny of the house, or stacking on bedtime stories, parents go to great lengths to ensure their children are safe and loved.

Despite all of our preparations, things occasionally go wrong. Pregnancy may be a time of uncertainty and worry for some mothers. Will the baby be healthy? What if I do something to harm my child? These are all valid concerns that every parent has at some point.

One of the risks during pregnancy is alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can result in a wide range of developmental issues for the child, including Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

What Is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

The placenta and fetal baby rapidly absorb alcohol that enters the system after a pregnant woman consumes it. Since the baby’s liver is not yet fully developed and cannot process the alcohol as an adult liver can. This build-up of alcohol in the baby’s system can cause a wide range of physical and mental problems.

In some cases, alcohol consumption may also lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.

A woman’s body goes through some of the most critical issues during pregnancy. The first trimester is when the baby’s brain begins to develop, which is when specific problems can occur. However, the second and third trimesters aren’t free from danger either. Even minor amounts of alcohol might influence development in the brain at this time because it is still maturing.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Prevention

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a preventable condition. The best way to mitigate the fear of harming your child is by abstaining from alcohol consumption during pregnancy. There is no safe amount and safe time of alcohol that can be consumed while pregnant.

If you think you might have conceived or are planning on becoming pregnant, the best thing to do is stop drinking alcohol right away. If you have been drinking alcohol during pregnancy, speak with your doctor or midwife as soon as possible.

At any point, if you feel like you need help with alcohol use disorder, please reach out for help. The resources aren’t limited, and you are not alone. Private addiction treatment services often have mixed-gender facilities which may be inconvenient for a pregnant woman. United Recovery Project, however, offer female-only options which may be more adequate in such cases.

How to Detect if a Child has FAS?

There is no definitive test for FAS. However, there are a few prominent indicators that doctors look for:

Physical Defects

One of the most common physical effects of FAS is stunted growth. It means that the child may be shorter than other children their age and have a lower-than-average weight.

The child may also have facial deformities, such as:

  • Smaller than average eyes
  • An abnormally shaped upper lip
  • A thinning of the area between the nose and upper lip
  • Malformations in the joints, limbs, or digits
  • Heart defects
  • Kidney defects

Mental Defects

FAS can also cause a wide range of mental problems. These may include:

  • Learning difficulties: Problems with memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.
  • Hyperactivity: They may be more active and have a shorter attention span than other children their age.
  • Delayed development: May reach developmental milestones, such as talking and walking, later than other children.
  • Intellectual disability: May have a lower-than-average IQ.

Behavioral Disabilities

FAS affects more than just the mind and body; it can also lead to behavioral problems. Children with FAS may show:

  • Impulsive behavior: May act without thinking about the consequences of their actions.
  • Problems with social skills: May have difficulty making friends and interacting with other children their age.
  • Anxiety and depression: May experience anxiety, depression, and mood swings.

If you suspect any of the symptoms linked to FAS, you should see a physician as soon as possible.

What Treatment Options are Available?

Behavior and learning issues might benefit from therapy. Parents can also get training to assist their kids. There are no medications available to treat fetal alcohol syndrome specifically. However, particular drugs may help with symptoms such as hyperactivity, difficulty focusing, or anxiety.

These medicines should only be used as a last resort and under the supervision of a doctor. It’s essential to remember that there is no cure for FAS. However, early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in the lives of children with this condition.


Staying proactive and taking preventative measures during pregnancy can save you and your child a lot of heartaches. If anyone you know may be struggling with alcoholism, please reach out for help.

  • FAS is a preventable condition caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
  • There is no safe time or any amount of alcohol that can be consumed while pregnant.
  • Pregnant women must abstain from consuming alcohol during all stages.
  • There is no definitive test for FAS, but there are a few key indicators that doctors look for, such as physical defects, mental defects, and behavioral disabilities.
  • If you think that your child may have FAS, it is crucial to speak with a doctor as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, please reach out for help.