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What is FASD?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a group of developmental disorders that results from the exposure of a fetus to alcohol. FASD includes, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Partial FAS, Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND), and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD). While each of these disorders includes damage to the brain that results in neuropsychological and behavioral dysfunction, FAS is the most well-known of the disorders because of the classic craniofacial dysmorphologies and growth deficiency produced by early fetal exposure to alcohol. Partial FAS does not show the growth deficits and ARBD has the physical defects of FAS without the full syndrome. ARND shows only the neuropsychological and behavioral dysfunction without the physical characteristics of FAS. FAS is the major cause of birth defects in the Western world, yet it accounts for only 10% of all the cases of FASD. Contrary to public thought, FASD children can have either a low or normal IQ. MotherDepending on the time during pregnancy when the mother drinks alcohol as well as the drinking pattern, the facial dysmorphologies and other physical abnormalities of FAS can be absent, making a diagnosis quite difficult. In fact, children with FASD are often diagnosed with other disorders such as Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD/ADHD) or Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Nevertheless, all children with FASD can suffer the same degree of central nervous system dysfunction and secondary effects (defined below) as do children with FAS.