Mohave County WIC

Alcohol and Your Baby:

By the end of this session you will:
Learn the difference between:
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE)
Find out what happens to a fetus when a mom drinks.
Learn the long term effects on a baby and family with FAS or FAE.

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Fetal Alcohol syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE) are the number one preventable forms of birth defects today.


What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the name of a group of mental and physical birth defects.  FAS is the direct result of a woman drinking alcohol during pregnancy.  There is no cure and no reversing the effects.


It is totally preventable. Don't drink during pregnancy!
FAS physical defects include:
small at birth
shorter size
deformed fingers and toes
develop slowly
Infants with FAS also tend to have a particular pattern of facial abnormalities such as:
abnormally small head
low nasal bridge
abnormally small eyes
flat midface
short nose
thin upper lip


FAS also includes deformities in the major organ systems, especially the heart.  
Mental defects:
low IQ's
permanent brain damage
learning problems
poor coordination
short attention spans
Emotional defects:
behavioral problems
These defects continue throughout the child's life.



What is Fetal Alcohol Effect?
Children with Fetal Alcohol Effect may show no physical signs and may have normal or above normal intelligence.  They may have behavioral problems, attention deficit disorders and hyperactivity.  They often show poor judgment and have trouble with the law.  They tend to have problems with school, family and friends.


When Pregnant Women Drink so Does BABY!
Alcohol is toxic (a poison) and it passes directly from mom to baby across the placenta.
Alcohol can effect the way cells grow and join together as they multiply.
The baby's brain is particularly sensitive to alcohol and alcohol can reduce the number of cells growing in the brain.  The developing brain is often smaller and the neurons (nerves that send messages) are found in the wrong places.
The first three months are the MOST CRITICAL to the development of the baby's internal organs.  This is a time when many women don't even know they are pregnant!


Activity 1:
Simply answer True or False.

1. Kids with fetal alcohol syndrome have bad behavior all the time. True False
2. There is a cure for fetal alcohol syndrome. True False
3. FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) means that a baby is born drunk. True False
4. FAS can cause behavior problems. True False
5. FAS can cause learning problems. True False
6. FAS is the leading cause of mental retardation. True False
7. There are always physical signs in a baby with Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE). True False
8. The first three months of a women's pregnancy is the most critical time to the development of the baby's internal organs. True False


Stages of Developing Fetus
Guidelines of Care for children with Special Health Care Needs
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effects
Minnesota Department of Health 1999

Activity 2:

The most brain damage from drinking occurs during which weeks of pregnancy? 
Can the legs and arms be affected by alcohol consumption?
Does damage start before most people realize they are pregnant?


Damage Caused by Alcohol:

1st Trimester: causes greatest brain damage, facial malformations, miscarriage, damages heart, liver and kidneys
2nd Trimester: impairs brain development, damages muscles, teeth, bones and skin
3rd Trimester: impairs lung development, poor weight gain for fetus, causes early labor and delivery


Why should I Worry?

Recent studies in the United States indicate between 1300 and 8000 children are born with FAS.  That's about 1 in every 500 births.  Many more are born with FAE, about 1 in every 300 births.  

"The consequences of prenatal abuse are likely underreported. Hospitals report some 2,700 cases annually of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. But because signs of this disease-physical deformities, stunted growth, behavioral abnormalities and mental retardation-are often not apparent at birth, many experts place the number of FAS babies at 12,000 a year." (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.)


Recent CDC findings indicate that 1 in 8 women between 18 and 44 years age report "risk drinking".  Risk drinking means having 7 or more drinks per week, or 5 or more drinks at one time.

One out of every 29 women who know they are pregnant report risk drinking.


Which Alcoholic Beverage has the Least Amount of Alcohol?

12 oz. beer

4 oz. wine

1 ounce liquor

wine or wine coolers
hard alcohol
all of the above
none of the above

All of the above.  A can of beer, a glass of wine, a wine cooler and a shot of liquor all contain about ½ ounce of alcohol.


What Happens when Baby Comes Home?

Babies with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are often irritable.  They are very sensitive to light, noise and touch.  They have a difficult time feeding because of weak sucking and fatigue.  They have problems with sleep, they're fussy and not easily soothed.  They are jittery, nervous and cry excessively.  There are often on-going medical problems.

As you can see any one of the problems about would put a strain on anyone.  FAS baby's often have more than one problem.  These problems don't do away.  As the infants get older they may become upset easier, hyperactive and easily distracted.  The child may show developmental delays and have problems using muscles.  To checkout guidelines for care click on  This is only the beginning of a long a bumpy road for a fetal alcohol child.  They often have difficulties getting along with others.  Poor problem solving skills, judgment, impulse control and immature behavior cause problems with the law.


Activity 3:
 1. Name three problems seen with a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome.


IF you have further questions or want to know more here are some links to get more information.

Links to more information

FASlink Discussion
FASlink Archives

Bruce Ritchie's extensive resources, including the FASlink Discussion Forum and the FASlink Archives. More than 50,000 letters and articles on FAS related subjects.
FAS Community Resource Centre

Teresa Kellerman's Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Community Resource Center, Tucson Arizona. Terrific website on FAS. Extensive information and resources including books, videos, etc. Well worth an extended visit.


Teresa Kellerman's Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Support, Training Advocacy and Resources website for information on training and workshops for agencies



International FAS Day. Brian Philcox and Bonnie Buxton. Volunteers from around the world work together year-round to build awareness. Each year, on September 9, we observe International FAS Awareness Day with its "Minute of Reflection" at 9:09 a.m.

Sterling K. Clarren, M.D. and
Susan J. Astley, Ph.D.

Washington State Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic and Prevention Network, University of Washington

Dr. Ann Streissguth

Dr. Ann Streissguth and her team up at the University of Washington Fetal Alcohol Drug Unit

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

A non-profit organization working to minimize the harm associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

FAS Teaching Guide on the Net

A comprehensive teachers' FAS resource guide.

National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counsellors

NAADAC (U.K.) - Extensive resources and links.

A Birth Mom's Perspective


FAS*FRI's web site


PERC - Parents and Educators Resource Center

Outstanding articles on Memory, Dyslexia and other issues for Special Children.

Texas Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Consortium


Booze News - MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Alcohol related news items including previous items.

From "Lifeline - The Burlington County Times"

An extremely well written article on alcohol.

Sandra Cameron's page about handicapped children.



Information on education law. Located in Hollywood, Florida.

T.A.S.K.(Team of Advocates for Special Ed Kids)


USA Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Effects Information Homepage


The Arc's Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Resource and Materials Guide


Infant Mental Health On-Line


FAS Information, Training and Seminars


CMA Policy Summary: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome


Manitoba F.A.S Newsletter


FAS/E Nation - Newsletter for Parents & Professionals


FAS/E Information Home Page


Fetal Alcohol Syndrome /Effects Homepage

A service provided by the Medical Genetics Department of Shodair Hospital, Montana. Contains fact sheet, reading and resources lists, and "FASETS" newsletters.

The Arc's FAS Resource and Materials Guide

An extensive listing of FAS resources. Topics include: General/overview materials, Medical materials, Identification andDiagnosis, Research, Prevention Campaign materials, Families with FAS children, Instructional materials, and Funding.

Alcohol Related Birth Defects

A short informational page with suggestions for organization and advocacy.

Identification of FAS

From the Virtual Hospital of the University of Iowa. A technical paper on diagnostic criteria for FAS using ICD coding.

FAS Seminars

From "Seminars International". Advertisement for a 4-hour or all day workshop on FAS/FAE. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse _ Lengthy FAS/FAE page, including information on an FAS listserver (FAS forum conducted via e-mail), link to the "FAS/E Nation" newsletter, information on upcoming seminars and conferences, publications and other resources.

CMA Policy Summary

FAS policy statement from the Canadian Medical Association.

Why Drinking and Pregnancy Don't Mix

Excellent short page on the causes and prevention of FAS.

Natal Health Resources

Concise list of programs and organizations that can provide information on FAS and other "healthy baby" issues.

Selected Resources on Family Support

From The Arc.


(based in Guelph, Ontario) Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Assistance & Training -
We are a charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to developing efficient and effective community responses for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Effects (FAS) in partnership with professionals and parents throughout southern Ontario.

ARBI - Alcohol Related Birth Injury (FAS/FAE) Resource Site - We offer information about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Alcohol Related Birth Injury in a format designed for quick access to the information you require and quick access to links for many related sites.

Children's Special Needs

Community - - - Community support for unique families : adoption and children's special needs.

Fetal Alcohol Support and Information Centre

Fetal Alcohol Support and Information Centre (based in Windsor, Ontario) is operated by Bill & Joan Smith.
Monthly support group in Windsor, Ontario.


Help for the struggling learners. Hyperactive, Impulsive, "fall through the crack kids", "just doesn't seem to get it kids..." are my favorite kinds of kids!

FAS Sites in Other Languages


FAS in Japan

Peggy Seo Oba

Ann Gibson's Website in Germany

Ann Gibson's website in Germany

German FAS Information


Spanish information on FAS/FAE.


Síndrome de Alcohol en el Feto

CDC Fact Sheet in Spanish

La bebida y su embarazo -

NIAAA brochure in Spanish

Needs in Criminal Justice, Supported Living, and Mental Health

Kleinfeld's Testimony Presented to the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations


Questions and Answers from the CDC

FAS Fact Sheet

Well-documented statistics from NOFAS

FAS, the leading known cause of mental retardation

NCADD facts, statistics, symptoms

FAS Resource and Materials Guide

A comprehensive list of materials to order from the Arc

Alcohol and Pregnancy Don't Mix

When a pregnant woman has a drink, so does the baby.

The Ethanol Bath

from the University of Washington School of Medicine's Newsletter January 2000

Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit

Bio and projects of Ann P. Streissguth, Ph.D

1996 Report from Intsitute of Medicine

Executive Summary

National Institute of Health

Articles and Research Abstracts on FAS

FAS Alaska

Deb Evensen's excellent site for Project FACTS

Addressing Student Problem Behavior

Functional Behavioral Assessment

Understanding FAS and ARND

Diane Malbin's explanation of the "invisible disability."

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Effects

Good suggestions for parents and teachers

Alcohol and Pregnancy

latest research on moderate drinking

Close to Home

Bill Moyers series on addiction.

FAS/FAE Symptoms in Adolescence

Behavioral symptoms of adolescents with FAS/E.

Alcohol Related Birth Injury

ARBI: An excellent resource site in Canada

Campaign for Alcohol Free Kids

Alcohol: #1 Drug of choice.

Strategies for parents and caregivers

from NOFAS

FAS Family Resource Institute

Information packets and newsletter

Why Pregnant Women Drink

Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies article looks at alcoholism

Study on Social Drinking During Pregnancy

Recent study on primates

What can YOU do?

League For The Prevention of Alcohol Related Fetal Brain Injury

Lakeland FAS

in Alberta, Canada.

Seven Steps to Having a Healthy Baby

Drinking During Pregnancy

from the March of Dimes

Booze News

Center for Science in the Public Interest CSPI


From birth, a baby's brain cells proliferate wildly, making connections that may shape a lifetime of experience. The first three years are critical.


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Activity 1: 1. False.  Behavior problems vary
2. False.  There is no cure or reversing damage caused by alcohol.
3. False, it means that a baby has been exposed and shows characteristics of alcohol the mother drank during pregnancy.
4. True, becuase it effects different areas of the brain that control reasoning and emotions.
5. True, FAS can cause mental retardation.
6. True, FAS is the #1 cause of mental retardation.
7. False
8. True. The first three months are the MOST CRITICAL to the development of the baby's internal organs.  This is a time when many women don't even know they are pregnant!
Activity 2: 1. All 40 weeks
2. Yes
3. Yes, most start during the first trimester, when women don't know they're pregnant.
Activity 3: 1. FAS physical defects include: small at birth, shorter size, underweight, deformed fingers and toes, develop slowly.  Infants with FAS also tend to have a particular pattern of facial abnormalities such as: abnormally small head, low nasal bridge, abnormally small eyes, flat midface, short nose, thin upper lip.  FAS also includes deformities in the major organ systems, especially the heart.  Mental defects: low IQ's, permanent brain damage,  learning problems, poor coordination, short attention spans.  Emotional defects: hyperactive, behavioral problems

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Revised: August 25, 2004
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