Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: How Alcohol affects the Unborn Baby


A child born to a mother who drank alcohol during pregnancy may develop a range of diseases called FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM DISORDERS (FASDs). It has always been mentioned severally that pregnant women should stay away from alcohol, smoking and a lot of other things for the sake of there child, but many don’t know why.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during her pregnancy. Children with FASDs are more likely to have trouble in school, legal problems, participate in high-risk behaviors, and have trouble with alcohol or other drugs in later life.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

The most severe form FASDs is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Other types include partial fetal alcohol syndrome (pFAS), alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) & alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD).


Here’s how it manifests; A child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), may exhibit these typical symptoms:

  1. Abnormal face & hands
  2. Short height
  3. Low weight
  4. Small head
  5. Poor coordination
  6. Low IQ (mental retardation)
  7. Bad behavior, &
  8. Difficulties with hearing & seeing

Studies have also shown that children with FASDs are more likely to;

  • be stubborn & recalcitrant
  • get into trouble in school
  • have criminal inclinations
  • indulge in high-risk behaviors, &
  • abuse alcohol or other drugs later in their life.


In the most severe form of FASDs called FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME, there’s substantial brain damage. Other types are;

  • Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Alcohol-related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, &
  • Alcohol-related Birth Defects, where baby is born completely malformed.

So, a child with FASDs basically has issues with how their brain works. They’re short, have severe difficulty with learning, communicating, taking care of themselves, getting along with others, plus abnormal body features, all of which affect their long term livelihoods.

In fact, alcohol in pregnancy is far more harmful than any other recreational drug, be it cocaine, heroin or marijuana. The tragic part is that FASDs are under-diagnosed. You’ll wonder why a child born to intelligent parents grows up severely mentally retarded. Could be alcohol!


Sometimes, alcohol damages a developing baby before you even know you’re pregnant.
For example, there are many other problems with drinking alcohol in pregnancy such as heart defects, premature births, miscarriages & still births.


To prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), our pregnant women & ladies intending to get pregnant in the near future should stay away from drinking alcohol. It’s that simple.

If you’re pregnant or intending to be in the near future, please don’t risk your unborn baby’s life drinking alcohol. This is all in addition to the numerous adverse effects it has on you as a mother. Think about their future.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have below


  • Ozoemena Chiadikobi Avellino attended the college of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH in Enugu, Nigeria.

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