Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Symptoms & Complications

Fetal alcohol syndrome is characterized by narrow, but wide-set eyes and abnormalities of the facial features. Although there are no facts to support how many babies are born with fetal alcohol syndrome, the figures have been scrutinized and evaluated, by several governmental studies. The conclusion is 0.2-1.5 American babies out of 1,000 births have been diagnosed with this birth defect (CDC).


There has been no set time frame, within the stages of pregnancy, but most scientist seem to think that it occurs most often, during the early stages. The most probable cause is linked to the mother not being aware of her pregnancy.


Children with fetal alcohol syndrome have a long road ahead of them, since they will face many physical, mental, and emotional challenges throughout their lifetime. The symptoms will range from very mild to extremely severe and may or may not include all of the symptoms. Other defects include:

  • Smooth Ridge Area Between The Upper Lip and Nose
  • Thin Upper Lip
  • Slow Physical Growth Pattern (Mid & Post-Pregnancy)
  • Joints, Bones, Legs, and Digits (Fingers) Deformity
  • Visual and Hearing Impairments
  • Central Nervous System Impairments
  • Cardiac Defects
  • Renal (Kidney) Impairment
  • Mobility and Motor Functioning Delays
  • Learning, Memory, and Cognitive Impairments
  • Poor Attention span
  • Difficulties in Problem Solving
  • Mood Swings
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Poor Focus Factor

These children will struggle through their school years, while having difficulty maintaining friendships. They will also have difficulty attempting to multi-task and socializing with others, within their age group.


In order to receive a genuine diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome the baby or child must exhibit all physical traits (highlighted above) of the condition, growth impairments, and CNS problems. Functional issues do not have to be present in order to be diagnosed with this birth defect.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is currently unavailable for fetal alcohol syndrome. It is vital that the mother keep an open door of communication open with their OB/GYN and make them aware of their alcohol addiction. Alcohol cessation is the only way to decrease the severity of this birth defect.


There is no genuine cure for FAS, but there are many treatments and therapies that the child can undergo to combat the symptoms.

  • Physical Therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Psychological Counseling
  • Cardiac Monitoring and Management
  • Special Education Classes
  • Occupational Therapy