Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (cont.)
David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is fetal alcohol syndrome?
- What are fetal alcohol syndrome symptoms and signs?
- How is the diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome made?
- What is the diagnosis "fetal alcohol effects"?
- What problems are peculiar to children with fetal alcohol syndrome?
- What causes fetal alcohol syndrome?
- How much alcohol is safe during pregnancy?
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome At A Glance
What is the diagnosis "fetal alcohol effects"?
Fetal alcohol effects (FAE) is a softer diagnosis than FAS. The diagnosis of possible FAE is considered when
- the person has some signs of FAS,
- the person does not meet all of the necessary criteria for FAS,
- and there is a history of alcohol exposure before birth.
What problems are peculiar to children with fetal alcohol syndrome?
With time, FAS children tend to have eye, ear, and dental problems. Myopia (nearsightedness) may develop. Problems with the eustachian tube leading to the middle ear set the stage for ear infections. There is frequent malalignment and malocclusion of the teeth. Children with FAS have enough difficulty in life without the additional burden of not being able to see, hear, and eat normally. These deficits should be treated appropriately.
Behavior problems in FAS are manifold, including unpredictable extreme mood swings, impulsiveness, diminished judgment, attention deficit, lack of normal self-discipline, irresponsibility, and difficulty taking social cues.
What causes fetal alcohol syndrome?
The ultimate cause is alcohol intake by the pregnant mother. However, alcohol itself may not be directly responsible for all (or any) of the features of FAS. What may be responsible are byproducts generated when the body metabolizes ("burns") alcohol. The end result is a decrease in the number of brain cells (neurons), abnormal location of neurons (due to disturbance of their normal migration during fetal development), and gross malformation of the brain.
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