FAS can be diagnosed from birth in the most seriously afflicted children. However, the physical characteristics are most noticeable between the ages of eight months and eight years.
FAS affects every part of the body that is affected by alcohol-induced damage. The most obvious signs are small size for the age, slightly rounded face, smooth skin with no hair, blue eyes, thin lips and a prominent nose. FAS babies often have trouble sleeping and may have heart defects, respiratory problems and brain damage.
The diagnosis can only be made after considering all other possible causes of abnormal development during pregnancy or childhood. These include infections, malnutrition, hyperthermia (excessive heat), hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland), chronic stress, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, diabetes, and acid reflux. A genetic predisposition to developing FAS does exist, but it does not affect everyone who has an alcoholic parent. An infant or child needs to experience alcohol during pregnancy to develop FAS. It cannot be transmitted through drinking tea or coffee or eating foods containing alcohol.
Children with FAS will usually have some form of intellectual disability and may have additional health problems as well.
Although there is no cure for FASDs, evidence indicates that early intervention therapy services can enhance a child's development. Early intervention services assist children from birth to three years of age (36 months) in learning critical skills. These services include education, health, and social opportunities. Children who receive these services grow up to be healthy adults.
Parents/caregivers can play an important role in ensuring their children get the necessary early intervention services. The earlier a disability is detected, the more likely it can be prevented or minimized. If you think your child may have been affected by FASD, seek advice from a professional who can help diagnose the condition and offer appropriate treatment.
Up to 40,000 newborns are born each year with a FASD. These problems affect hundreds of thousands of adults. Most individuals with FASD look like you and me, but they have cognitive issues that make it difficult for them to live independently. Some require full-time care and others do not develop mental abilities until late in life.
People with FAS can work long hours at skilled jobs. They just need support to do things like pay bills, fill out forms, and manage money. That's where a personal assistant comes in handy. These are usually young women who help families by performing tasks such as paying bills, shopping for groceries, and running errands.
Families often need more than one person to take care of these duties, so many PA positions are held by friends or relatives who aren't receiving any compensation. However, some families do hire professionals to provide these services on a full-time basis. This is particularly true if there are children involved in the case. When this is the situation, it's called an interdependent living arrangement and requires special planning.
People with FAS can live alone but will need assistance with daily activities like cooking meals, cleaning the house, going to the doctor, and taking care of other needs related to independent living. Families sometimes provide this type of assistance through a service called in-home care.
According to research, at least 1% of the population is afflicted by FASD, which means that 7,000 newborns are born in the UK each year with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The number may be much higher because there are no national guidelines for identifying children who might be affected by FASD.
Fetal alcohol syndrome is a common cause of mental retardation. It can affect any part of the body but most often causes physical problems with the brain and nervous system. There are three main types of FS: moderate, severe and very severe. Of those diagnosed, about 90% have some form of FS. No one really knows how many people are affected by FS because so many cases go unreported. However, it is estimated that between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 500 births result in a child being diagnosed with FS.
Children must receive a diagnosis from a doctor before they can be registered with the NHS as having a disability. This means that doctors need to look for signs of FS during routine appointments with their general practitioner or paediatrician. If a doctor does not identify any issues related to alcohol consumption during these visits then the child cannot be given a FS diagnosis.
In addition to affecting the developing brain, alcohol also has other negative effects on an unborn baby.