Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a diagnosis that refers to a set of birth defects caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. The symptoms can be physical, mental or both, and are often permanent and difficult to treat. Though every child with FASD is different, there are a few common symptoms:
Babies with FASD will tend to have low birth weights and be shorter than average. This will continue throughout their lives, though some children born with FASD can have average or even high weight and height.
The most obvious outward signs of FASD are in the face: a smaller than average skull, a short nose, a less visible philtrum (the groove between your lips and nose), a thin upper lip and small eye openings. Being so prominent and easily recognizable opens up children with FASD for bullying and stigma throughout their lives.
By far the most damaging aspect of FASD is its impact on the brain: many children with FASD experience difficulties with abstract concepts, good judgment, behaviour management, attention, and learning. Their difficultly controlling impulses and delaying gratification means that women with an FASD are more likely to drink while pregnant, setting up a vicious cycle that the LCFASD is determined to break.
The term Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) was first coined in 1973 by Jones and Smith who described malformations and developmental issues affecting children who had prenatal exposure to alcohol. Many other terms have subsequently been used to describe the range of birth defects including Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE); Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) and others. FASD encompasses these terms and all the others used to describe the effects of alcohol while pregnant.
Over their lifetime, individuals affected by FASD may be challenged by secondary disabilities stemming from their alcohol related brain injuries. Secondary issues can include trouble with the law, with housing, with employment, with mental health issues and sexual inappropriateness. The range of primary and secondary disabilities associated with FASD has obvious and profound implications for the planning and delivery of health and human services across the lifespan.
There is no cure for FASD.
We do not know, but, we do know that in places where people drink a lot of alcohol, it is more common for children to be born with FASD. FASD is the most common preventable birth defect. It is also the most common reason for a child’s development and learning to be affected. In Canada, it is estimated that 4% of Canadians have FASD.
If you think your child has FASD, it is important for you to talk to us or to your family doctor. We will always treat you with respect and dignity, because the most important thing is to find out what type of help your child needs to be successful and happy.
Contact us today and we will work with you in identification and diagnosis.
The possible damage to your unborn child will depend on many things. They include how much and how often you drank and how far along you were in your pregnancy. Contact us today and we will help you.