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Advocate Tip:  Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are a group of conditions that can occur in children who have been exposed to alcohol prior to birth. Children with FASD can have a mix of learning and behavior problems, as well as physical and intellectual disabilities. FASD can affect each child in different ways, and the severity of conditions can range from mild to severe. There are three different terms used to describe FASD: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND), and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD). 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the most well-known and the most severe condition on the FASD spectrum. Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may have abnormal facial features, problems with the central nervous system, vision or hearing problems, and problems with growth, learning, memory, or attention span. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the only condition on the FASD spectrum that can currently be clinically diagnosed. Diagnosing a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can be difficult because there are no medical tests that can be used to diagnose Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and there are many other disorders that have similar symptoms. In order for a child to be diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome doctors must observe all three of the following findings: abnormal facial features, growth deficits, and central nervous system problems. 

Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) 

Children with Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) may have issues with behavior and learning. These children may have difficulties in school, especially with math, and may also have trouble with attention and memory. Behavioral problems, such as poor impulse control, may also be associated with ARND.  

Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD)

Children with Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD) can have a variety of problems. These children may have problems with their hearts, kidneys, or bones. Hearing impairments are also possible defects related to prenatal alcohol exposure. Children who have ARBD may have only one defect or could have several different birth defects. 

  1. What are the three finding that doctors must observe in order to diagnose a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?
  2. True or False. Children can be clinically diagnosed with any of the three conditions listed on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. 
  3. List three problems that children with Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder might experience.

To receive 1 hour worth of training credit, read the above article and submit answers to the accompanying training questions to Elisabeth Reise at