Tag Archives: fetal alcohol syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Visualization

FAS was a project I worked on at VDI. We collaborated with McMaster University on a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome visualization, which demonstrated the subtle changes in an embryo affected by FAS

What is FAS

Prenatal exposure to alcohol can cause a range of disorders, known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). One of the most severe effects of drinking during pregnancy is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is one of the leading known preventable causes of mental retardation and birth defects. If a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, her baby can be born with FAS, a lifelong condition that causes physical and mental disabilities. FAS is characterized by abnormal facial features, growth deficiencies, and central nervous system (CNS) problems. People with FAS might have problems with learning, memory, attention span, communication, vision, hearing, or a combination of these. These problems often lead to difficulties in school and problems getting along with others. FAS is a permanent condition. It affects every aspect of an individual’s life and the lives of his or her family.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. The term FASDs is not intended for use as a clinical diagnosis.

FASDs include FAS as well as other conditions in which individuals have some, but not all, of the clinical signs of FAS. Three terms often used are fetal alcohol effects (FAE), alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD). The term FAE has been used to describe behavioral and cognitive problems in children who were prenatally exposed to alcohol, but who do not have all of the typical diagnostic features of FAS. In 1996, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) replaced FAE with the terms ARND and ARBD. Children with ARND might have functional or mental problems linked to prenatal alcohol exposure. These include behavioral or cognitive abnormalities or a combination of both. Children with ARBD might have problems with the heart, kidneys, bones, and/or hearing.

All FASDs are 100% preventable-if a woman does not drink alcohol while she is pregnant.