Fetal alcohol syndrome

Last revised by Henry Knipe on 17 Feb 2023

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a potential syndromic complication that can occur with maternal pre-natal alcohol exposure. It is also broadly categorized as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) due to the fact that the fetus may not show all the features and the broad spectrum of effects on the fetus from alcohol.

It is considered one of the commonest preventable causes of intellectual impairment. The estimated incidence in the Western world is at around 0.2-1% of live births 6,7 for FAS and ~10% for FASD 7. It may affect ~30% (range 20-40%) of pregnancies in mothers with chronic alcohol use 8.

The spectrum of features include:

  • hypoplasia of external genitalia 8

  • alcohol withdrawal may occur in infancy

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