Q: I just found out I am pregnant. I have stopped drinking now, but I was drinking in the first few weeks of my pregnancy, before I knew I was pregnant. What should I do now?
A: The most important thing is that you have completely stopped drinking after learning of your pregnancy. It is never too late to stop drinking. The sooner you stop, the better the chances for your baby’s health.
It is not possible to know what harm might have been done already. Some women can drink heavily during pregnancy and their babies do not seem to have any problems. Others drink less and their babies show various signs of alcohol exposure. Many body parts and organs are developing in the first few weeks of pregnancy (weeks 3 to 8). This is the time when most women do not know they are pregnant. The best advice is to try not to be alarmed, talk to your doctor about this, and be sure to receive routine prenatal care throughout your pregnancy.
Q. What is a "drink"? What if I drink only beer or wine coolers?
A: All drinks containing alcohol can hurt an unborn baby, even beer and wine coolers. A standard drink is defined as .60 ounces of pure alcohol. This is equivalent to one 12-ounce beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits (hard liquor). Some alcoholic drinks have high alcohol concentrations and come in larger containers (22-45 ounce containers). There is no safe kind of alcohol. If you have any questions about your alcohol use and its risks to your health, talk to your health care provider. You can also visit CDC’s website on alcohol.
Q: I drank wine during my last pregnancy and my baby turned out fine. Why shouldn’t I drink again during this pregnancy?
A: Every pregnancy is different. Drinking alcohol may hurt one baby more than another. You could have one child who is born healthy and another child who is born with problems.
Q: If a woman has an FASD, but does not drink during pregnancy, can her child have an FASD? Are FASDs hereditary?
A: FASDs are not genetic or hereditary. If a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, her baby can be born with an FASD. But if a woman has an FASD, her own child cannot have an FASD, unless she drinks alcohol during pregnancy.
Q: Can a father’s drinking cause harm to the baby?
A: How alcohol affects the male sperm is currently being studied. Whatever the effects are found to be, they are not fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). FASDs are caused specifically by the mother’s alcohol use during pregnancy.
However, the father’s role is important. He can help the woman avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy. He can encourage her to abstain from alcohol by avoiding social situations that involve drinking. He can also help her by avoiding alcohol himself.
Q: I’ve tried to stop drinking before, but I just couldn’t do it. Where can I get help?
A: If you cannot stop drinking, contact your doctor, local Alcoholics Anonymous, or local alcohol treatment center.
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a treatment facility locator. This loca tor helps people find drug and alcohol treatment programs in their area.
Alcoholics Anonymous(A.A.) Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. Locate an A.A. programnear you.
Q: I suspect my child, or a child in my care, might have FASD. What should I do?
A: If you think your child might have an FASD, talk to your child’s doctor and share your concerns. Don’t wait!
If you or the doctor thinks there could be a problem, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist (someone who knows about FASDs), such as a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, or clinical geneticist. In some cities, there are clinics whose staffs have special training in diagnosing and treating children with FASDs. To find doctors and clinics in your area in your area visit the National and State Resource Directoryfrom the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS).
At the same time, call your state’s public early childhood system to ask for a free evaluation to find out if your child qualifies for treatment services. This is sometimes called a Child Find evaluation. You do not need to wait for a doctor’s referral or a medical diagnosis to make this call.
Where to call for a free evaluation from the state depends on your child’s age:
·If your child is younger than 3 years old,contact your local early intervention system.
To find the contact for your state, call the NationalDisseminationCenter for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) at 1-800-695-0285. Or visit the NICHCY website; select your state and look for the heading "Programs for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities: Ages Birth through 3."
·If your child is 3 years old or older, contact your local public school system.
Even if your child is not old enough for kindergarten or is not enrolled in a public school, call your local elementary school or board of education and ask to speak with someone who can help you have your child evaluated.
If you’re not sure whom to contact, call the NationalDisseminationCenter for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) at 1-800-695-0285. Or visit the NICHCY website; select your state and look for the heading "Programs for Children with Disabilities: Ages 3 through 5."
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects can range from mild to severe. They can affect each person in different ways and can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning. The term FASDs is not intended as a clinical diagnosis.
CDC worked with a group of experts and organizations to review the research and develop guidelines for diagnosing fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The guidelines were developed for FAS only. CDC and its partners are working to put together diagnostic criteria for other FASDs, such as alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND). Clinical and scientific research on these conditions is going on now.
Guidelines for Diagnosing FAS
Deciding if a child has FAS takes several steps. There is no one test to diagnose FAS, and many other disorders can have similar symptoms. Following is an overview of the diagnostic guidelines for FAS. For more detail, see the full text Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Guidelines for Referral and Diagnosis for healthcare providers and other clinicians.
These criteria have been simplified for a general audience. They are listed here for information purposes and should be used only by trained healthcare professionals to diagnose or treat FAS.
Healthcare professionals look for the following signs and symptoms when diagnosing FAS:
1.Abnormal facial features A person with FAS has three distinct facial features:
·Smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip (smooth philtrum)
·Thin upper lip
·Short distance between the inner and outer corners of the eyes, giving the eyes a wide-spaced appearance.
2.Growth problems Children with FAS have height, weight, or both that are lower than normal (at or below the 10th percentile). These growth issues might occur even before birth. For some children with FAS, growth problems resolve themselves early in life.
3.Central nervous system problems The central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord. It controls all the workings of the body. When something goes wrong with a part of the nervous system, a person can have trouble moving, speaking, or learning. He or she can also have problems with memory, senses, or social skills. There are three categories of central nervous system problems:
I.Structural FAS can cause differences in the structure of the brain. Signs of structural differences are:
§Smaller-than-normal head size for the person’s overall height and weight (at or below the 10th percentile).
§Significant changes in the structure of the brain as seen on brain scans such as MRIs or CT scans.
II.Neurologic There are problems with the nervous system that cannot be linked to another cause. Examples include poor coordination, poor muscle control, and problems with sucking as a baby.
III.Functional The person’s ability to function is well below what’s expected for his or her age, schooling, or circumstances. To be diagnosed with FAS, a person must have:
a.Cognitive deficits (e.g., low IQ), or significant developmental delay in children who are too young for an IQ assessment.
b.Problems in at least three of the following areas:
§Cognitive deficits (e.g., low IQ) or developmental delays Examples include specific learning disabilities (especially math), poor grades in school, performance differences between verbal and nonverbal skills, and slowed movements or reactions.
§Executive functioning deficits These deficits involve the thinking processes that help a person manage life tasks. Such deficits include poor organization and planning, lack of inhibition, difficulty grasping cause and effect, difficulty following multistep directions, difficulty doing things in a new way or thinking of things in a new way, poor judgment, and inability to apply knowledge to new situations.
§Motor functioning delays These delays affect how a person controls his or her muscles. Examples include delay in walking (gross motor skills), difficulty writing or drawing (fine motor skills), clumsiness, balance problems, tremors, difficulty coordinating hands and fingers (dexterity), and poor sucking in babies.
§Attention problems or hyperactivity A child with these problems might be described as “busy,” overly active, inattentive, easily distracted, or having difficulty calming down, completing tasks, or moving from one activity to the next. Parents might report that their child’s attention changes from day to day (e.g., “on” and “off” days).
§Problems with social skills A child with social skills problems might lack a fear of strangers, be easily taken advantage of, prefer younger friends, be immature, show inappropriate sexual behaviors, and have trouble understanding how others feel.
§Other problems Other problems can include sensitivity to taste or touch, difficulty reading facial expression, and difficulty responding appropriately to common parenting practices (e.g., not understanding cause-and-effect discipline).
4.Mother’s Alcohol Use during Pregnancy Confirmed alcohol use during pregnancy can strengthen the case for FAS diagnosis. Confirmed absence of alcohol exposure would rule out the FAS diagnosis. It’s helpful to know whether or not the person’s mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. But confirmed alcohol use during pregnancy is not needed if the child meets the other criteria.
Summary: Criteria for FAS Diagnosis A diagnosis of FAS requires the presence of all three of the following findings:
1.All three facial features
3.Central nervous system problems. A person could meet the central nervous system criteria for FAS diagnosis if there is a problem with the brain structure, even if there are no signs of functional problems.
CDC has provided the information on this page because it may be of interest to you. CDC does not necessarily endorse the views or information presented. CDC cannot answer personal medical questions. Please talk to your healthcare professional about specific questions concerning appropriate care, treatment, or other medical advice.