Fetal Alcohol Effects

Fetal Alcohol Effects: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Other Problems

Fetal alcohol effects, including fetal alcohol syndrome, can cause severe and lifelong health problems for an infant. Drinking while pregnant not only greatly increases the chance of miscarrying a baby or delivering prematurely, but it can also cause alcohol birth defects that are either present at birth, or that develop gradually over the course of a child’s life.

Many women believe that drinking small amounts of alcohol may be safe, and in fact some studies indicate that as many as 1 out of every 12 women drink while carrying a baby. It is not clear exactly how much alcohol is necessary for problems to develop, however. Experts recommend refraining from any drinking at all in order to avoid potentially serious health problems.

Alcohol Birth Defects: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)

While fetal alcohol syndrome is the most well known of fetal alcohol effects, there is a wide range of problems that can occur when a pregnant woman consumes alcohol. These problems are broadly grouped under the term “fetal alcohol spectrum disorder,” or FASD. Sadly, as many as 40,000 babies are born every year with a disorder along this spectrum.  Babies born to mothers who drink may experience fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorders (ARND), or alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD).

Potential fetal alcohol effects that afflict babies with FAS, ARND or ARBD range from moderate to severe. They may include:

  • Abnormal development of the face, especially in the area between the top lip and the nose where a ridge may develop
  • A smaller-than-normal head, a shorter-than-normal height or a lower-than-normal weight
  • Lack of coordination
  • Hyperactivity or problems focusing
  • Learning disabilities including trouble in mathematics, speech and language problems, general academic difficulties, and a lowered IQ
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty seeing or hearing
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Bone problems

The most severe of the fetal alcohol effects, however, is fetal alcohol syndrome.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) causes a broad range of symptoms to a baby born with the condition, including many of those described above. Typically, a baby born with FAS won’t grow properly, either in the womb or after birth. He will never catch up to his peers. He or she will also have a distinctive appearance characterized by little eyes and a small upper lip, as well as by an overly flat area between the nose and top lip.

In addition to the abnormalities in appearance, those with FAS often have a mix of multiple symptoms as well as additional potential problems in the central nervous system. Fetal alcohol syndrome is also a common cause of mental retardation and is the only cause that can be prevented.

Getting Legal Help for Fetal Alcohol Effects

While fetal alcohol syndrome is often caused by a mother’s choice to drink, in some cases, fetal alcohol effects are caused or exacerbated by medical negligence or defective drugs or medical products. If you or a loved one has been affected by a birth defect resulting from a careless doctor or a dangerous product, contact one of Chaffin Luhana LLP’s experienced alcohol birth defect attorneys at 1-888-480-1123 for a free and confidential case review. You may be entitled to compensation, and the lawyers at Chaffin Luhana can help.