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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions

Preventable Birth Defect


Updated April 15, 2012

Here are the questions The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities most often receives about fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) along with their answers. The NCBDDD at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) seeks to promote optimal fetal, infant, and child development; prevent birth defects and childhood developmental disabilities; and enhance the quality of life and prevent secondary conditions among children, adolescents, and adults who are living with a disability.

  1. What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

  2. What are FAE, ARND, and ARDD?

  3. How does alcohol cause these problems?

  4. What are the effects of prenatal alcohol on the fetus?

  5. Does drinking during pregnancy always result in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

  6. What is a "drink?" What if I only drink beer or wine coolers?

  7. How much alcohol is reasonably acceptable to drink without running the risk of my child developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

  8. How do I know my child has been affected by maternal alcohol use?

  9. Is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome hereditary or is there a hereditary disposition to getting it?

  10. Can Fetal Alcohol Syndrome be treated? How?

  11. Are the consequences of drinking during pregnancy influenced by when the pregnant woman consumes alcohol, i.e., which trimester?

  12. What are the effects of alcohol on a fetus during the very first weeks -- before a woman would know that she was pregnant?

  13. How much alcohol is dangerous? Is there anything I can do now to decrease the chances of having a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

  14. What message does CDC have for pregnant women or women of childbearing age?

  15. What message does CDC have for doctors, obstetricians, and health care providers of pregnant women or women planning a pregnancy?

  16. How common is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

  17. What are the economic consequences of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

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