Major Risks of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

For some people who are in the throes of an addiction to a substance like alcohol, a true realization of the possible effects this is having on both yourself and others can sometimes be helpful for overcoming barriers. Within the realm of alcohol addiction in particular, one of the single largest such risks – one that faces pregnant women in particular – is fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS.

At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re here to offer caring, compassionate addiction recovery services to clients in Boise, plus other states like Washington and Oregon as well. Our alcohol addiction recovery programs assist with a variety of possible needs and risks, and fetal alcohol syndrome is one of numerous negative effects of alcohol we look to help our patients understand. Here are some basic facts about FAS to help expecting mothers understand just how dangerous it can be.

Defining Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of several conditions that falls under the grouping of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, or FASDs. It is a birth defect caused by the mother’s consumption of alcohol during her pregnancy.

The effects that FAS can have on the unborn child may be physical, such as facial deformities and growth deficiencies. They may also be mental or neurological in nature, resulting in memory problems, poor concentration, and behavioral issues like hyperactivity.

Possible Symptoms and Effects on the Child

Sadly, the results of FAS can be extremely devastating on children. Here are some of the possible signs or symptoms that it comes with:

  • Growth and development issues: Many children with FAS may experience slowed growth, either before or after birth. This can be both in terms of physical development and cognitive abilities, and frequently lead to mental retardation or developmental delays.
  • Ocular and facial deformities: Smaller eyes, thin upper lips, smooth philtrum (the groove between the nose and top lip), a shorter than normal distance between the eyes, and cleft palates are all possible signs of FAS in unborn children.
  • Joint and limb deformities: Children with FAS often have shorter arms and legs, as well as other joint deformities.
  • Behavioral issues: Difficulties related to behavior and impulse control are common among children with FAS, such as hyperactivity and aggressive outbursts.
  • Heart, kidney or bone defects: Some children with FAS may also experience various types of heart or kidney defects, as well as deformities in their bones.
  • Visual or hearing problems: Sight and hearing impairments may also occur in children with FAS.
  • Coordination and balance issues: Due to the changes in their nervous systems, many children with FAS have difficulty with coordination and balance.

These are just some of the many possible signs and symptoms that FAS can bring about in unborn children. It’s important for expecting mothers to be aware of the risks associated with drinking during pregnancy, as well as the effects that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can have on their child.

Mother’s Consumption is the Direct Cause

While some conditions have multiple possible causes or factors that may be involved in their development, the direct cause of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is clear: the mother’s consumption of alcohol during her pregnancy.

There is no known “safe” level or amount of alcohol consumption for pregnant women, and thus it’s best to avoid drinking altogether while expecting a child. Those who do choose to drink should be aware of the risks and accept full responsibility for any potential problems that may arise.


Simply put, there is only one fully robust way to prevent the development of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: abstaining from alcohol completely while pregnant.

For those who are in the throes of an addiction to alcohol and are expecting a child, proper treatment for their condition can help them regain control over their lives and make positive decisions for themselves and their unborn baby. Some of the solutions that may be part of alcohol treatment include:

  • Therapy: Both through behavioral and cognitive therapies, individuals can learn to understand and address the issues that led them to drink in the first place. This can help them make better decisions when it comes to their own health, as well as the health of their unborn child.
  • Medication: There are medications available that can help reduce cravings for alcohol and manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Support groups: Whether it’s through in-person meetings or online forums, support groups can provide a helpful and sympathetic environment for those struggling with alcohol addiction to rely on.

By taking the necessary steps to address their alcohol addiction, pregnant mothers can ensure that they remain sober and abstain from drinking throughout their pregnancy, thus protecting their unborn child from the many potential complications that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can bring about.

At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we understand the difficulties that come along with overcoming an addiction. Our dedicated team of counselors and therapists are here to provide you with the best possible care, support, and guidance for your journey towards sobriety. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive treatment programs for alcohol addiction and other addiction issues in Boise, Washington or Oregon.

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