Alcohol and Pregnancy

By: Courtney Etzler - Period 4 - Days: 3 & 6

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the physical and mental effects that a child has after exposed to alcohol while in the womb. It is also called FAS. This syndrome can not be cured. Treatment can only reduce some symptoms if used early. Another syndrome is known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) which describes the range of alcohol effects on a child.

Facial Features

  • Short palpebral fissures (narrow eye opening)
  • Wide-set eyes having large epicanthal folds (skin fold in the upper eyelid covers the inner corner of the eye)
  • Small upper jaw
  • Unusual ear shape
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Thin and smooth upper lip
  • Small head and teeth
  • Smooth philtrum (absence of groove between the nose and upper lip)
  • Flat cheeks
  • Short, upturned nose


A child diagnosed with FAS may have delayed development, a learning disability, slow growth, and/or a low birth weight. The child's behavior could be affected also. Alcohol can cause the child to be antisocial, aggressive, irritable, and hyperactive. Other common effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are a misshapen face, hearing loss, malnutrition, speech impairment, poor coordination, problems feeding, birth defects, and vision disorders.


There are many things that can change the affect of alcohol on a baby. The most common factors are:

  • what stage of pregnancy, how much, and how often the mother drinks alcohol.
  • if the mother had poor health, used any other drugs, or smoked while pregnant.
  • traits passed down through the family.

Some babies are more likely to be harmed by alcohol than others. The reason for this is not completely known but there may be a genetic link.

More Information

Alcohol passes through the mother's blood and into the baby's blood. The brain and spinal cord cells of the developing fetus are most likely to be damaged. The risk is higher with heavy alcohol use, but any amount of alcohol may affect the baby. Babies can not process alcohol through their liver. Alcohol can cause more harm to the baby than heroin or cocaine. FAS mainly affects the facial features, bones, heart and central nervous system. Pregnant women who drink can triple their chance of having a miscarriage.