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Fetal alcohol syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the term for severe birth defects caused by heavy alcohol use (5 or more drinks on at least one occasion) during pregnancy.

Children with FAS may have:

  • Distinctive facial features, which include a small head, flat face, narrow eye openings (slits), a short upturned nose, a flattened groove between the nose and the upper lip (philtrum), and a thin upper lip.
  • Low birth weight and slowed growth.
  • Central nervous system abnormalities, including small head size, intellectual disability, poor fine motor skills, or poor eye-hand coordination.
  • Behavior and thinking (cognitive) problems, which may include poor attention, concentration, memory, and comprehension skills; difficulty with math skills; hyperactivity; and extreme mood changes.

A child with FAS may also have birth defects that involve the eyes, ears, heart, urinary tract, or bones.

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