Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) describes a group of mental and physical defects that can affect the fetus. It is caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy. FAS can result from consuming any amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
Alcohol consumed by the mother crosses the placenta and causes damage to the developing fetus. The most significant damage affects the developing brain and results in psychological or behavioral problems. Brain damage is permanent and the effects are irreversible. There is no cure for fetal alcohol syndrome but it is 100% preventable.
Signs and symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome include distinctive facial features, joint and limb deformities, small head, vision defects, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, and abnormal behaviors. FAS often causes heart defects.
As we provide dental care for special needs children, we often see kids with FAS. Patients usually present with varying degrees of intellectual disabilities. Although kids with fetal alcohol syndrome do not have specific dental abnormailites, they are often fragile and require special care.