The effects of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders vary widely from person to person. These may include:

• Difficulties in an individual’s ability to succeed at home, school or work, and in social situations may arise at different ages
• Brain damage is the most serious effect that may result in cognitive and behavior problems
• An obvious sign of brain damage in some babies born with FASD is a small head
• Individuals may have facial anomalies such as small eye openings, a smooth philtrum (groove under the nose) and a thin upper lip. When all three of these abnormalities are present, they represent a sign of FASD
• A short nose is also a feature sometimes seen in persons with FASD
• A flat mid-face or a small upper jaw

People who do not have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder can also have these features. The features by themselves are not a sign of the disorders.

Babies born to mothers who drank alcohol during pregnancy may also be born small and underweight. Some may have difficulty nursing or eating and their growth continues to lag, which can result in failure to thrive. Some infants may experience:

• Tremors
• Seizures
• Excessive irritability
• Sleep problems

Physical effects of FASD may include:

• Heart defects such as a hole in the wall of the heart that separates its chambers
• Skeletal defects such as fused bones in the arms, fingers, hands, and toes
• Vision and hearing problems
• Kidney and liver defects
• Dental abnormalities

Alcohol can damage the developing fetus from the earliest weeks through the end of pregnancy. Poor nutrition and lack of prenatal care is also associated with women who drink during pregnancy. These factors can affect organ and skeletal development.

There are still many unanswered questions about the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure.

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

Author's Bio: 

Written by: Connie Limon Visit: for more information about pregnancy. Visit: for information about the job responsibilities of Human Service Specialists.