What is fetal alcohol syndrome

Jessica had some difficulty this morning. She woke up sweaty and dehydrated. She thought it would be a good idea to wear her favorite flannel footie pajamas to bed even though it’s the middle of August in Miami. On the way to breakfast, She slipped down a few stairs, twisting her ankle and stubbing her toe. The feet in her pajamas were too big and she tripped. She insisted on getting the larger size even though it didn’t fit. She did try to hold onto the railing on the way down the stairs but her grip is somewhat weak. Two of her fingers are partially fused together and her thumb is a little small. She was happy when she entered the kitchen but her mood suddenly shifted when she realized there wasn’t enough of her favorite cereal to make a full bowl. She yelled at her aunt, “You forgot! You forgot my cereal!” So she paced back and forth in the kitchen. Her aunt looked on. Jessica looks just like her mom, except her eyes are small and the area between her very-thin upper lip and nose is smooth. Her mother’s lips were full. Jessica’s beauty is what reminds her aunt about who her mother was before she started drinking. Jessica’s aunt tries to calm her, reminding her that she has a heart condition and should take it easy. This tends to be their routine. Every morning in the life of an adolescent with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Signs and symptoms

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) occurs in infants exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can result in physical, neurological, and behavioral issues including but not limited to:

  • Facial deformities (thin upper lip, small eyes)
  • Physical deformities (webbed fingers, short thumb)
  • Impulse control, distractability, hyperactivity
  • Poor planning

CLICK HERE to visit the Mayo Clinic to learn more about FAS.


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External Resources

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Maryland Preschool Special Education

Maryland Department of Education Division of Early Childhood