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Fetal alcohol syndrome

  • Alternative Names

    Alcohol in pregnancy; Drinking alcohol during pregnancy; Alcohol-related birth defects; Fetal alcohol effects


    Women who are pregnant or who are trying to get pregnant should avoid drinking any amount of alcohol. Pregnant women with alcoholism should join an alcohol abuse rehabilitation program and be checked closely by a health care provider throughout pregnancy.

    Support Groups

    The following organizations may offer assistance:

    • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency -- www.ncadd.org
    • National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service -- 1-800-662-4357

    See also: Alcoholism - support group

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outcome for infants with fetal alcohol syndrome varies depending on the extent of symptoms, but almost none have normal brain development.

    Infants and children with fetal alcohol syndrome have many different problems, which can be difficult to manage. Children do best if diagnosed early and referred to a team of providers who can work with their families on educational and behavioral strategies that best fit the individual child’s needs.


    Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may result in:

    • Miscarriage or stillbirth
    • Premature delivery

    Complications seen in the infant may include:

    • Abnormal heart structure
    • Behavior problems
    • Infant death
    • Mental retardation
    • Problems in the structure of the head, eyes, nose, or mouth
    • Poor growth before birth
    • Slow growth and poor coordination after birth

    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you are drinking alcohol regularly or heavily, and are finding it difficult to cut back or stop. Also, call if you are drinking alcohol in any amount while you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.