Fetal alcohol syndrome is part of a group of syndromes known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. It occurs when a pregnant mother consumes alcohol. In fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome is the most severe form of the condition. Other types include alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder, alcohol-related birth defects, and partial fetal alcohol syndrome.
In the United States, surveys have found that 20 to 30 percent of pregnant women drink alcohol at some point during pregnancy. It has been estimated that approximately 4.7 percent of North American pregnant women are alcoholics. The severity of the condition depends on the frequency and amount of alcohol consumed. Another important factor is the gestational age of the fetus during alcohol consumption. This condition is thought to happen as alcohol can cross the blood brain barrier and affect the developing baby. It is a preventable condition through avoiding alcohol consumption.
Although fetal alcohol syndrome is a permanent condition, supportive treatment can improve outcomes. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder has been estimated to affect about 2 to 5 percent of those in the United States and Western Europe. In the United States, it is believed to occur in 0.2 to 9 per 1,000 live births.
Symptom #1: Intellectual Disability
Intellectual disability, also referred to as mental retardation, is a term describing generalized neurodevelopmental disorder where there is intellectual or adaptive functioning that is significantly impaired. By definition, it occurs when the intelligence quotient is under 70.
It usually begins to be noticeable in childhood and involves deficits in social skills, mental abilities, and activities of daily living when compared with peers of their own age. Early signs are the delay in achievement of milestones, difficulty with self-care skills, behavioral issues, poor problem-solving skills, difficulty adapting to new situations, and issues with following social rules.