Although you risk harming your fetus if you drink any alcohol while
you are pregnant, the effects range from mild to severe. It is important to
have or find a doctor with whom you can talk openly about your alcohol drinking
habits during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have
about your child being affected by
fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
Think about having your child evaluated for FASD if he or she:
Has the distinctive facial features of FASD. These features include a
small face, narrow eye openings, a short upturned nose, and a flattened groove
between the nose and the upper lip. These features aren't usually noticed until a child is 2 to 3 years old.
Is not growing and developing
as expected. For example, your child may have
developmental delays, such as using fewer than
expected words for his or her age. Or he or she may be a lot smaller than other
children of the same age.
Is having problems learning and getting
along with others. A thorough evaluation to rule out other conditions that may
be causing the problems needs to be done before fetal alcohol exposure can
be confirmed as the cause of your child's problems.
The effects of alcohol on a fetus are more likely to be severe if you
drank heavily while you were pregnant. (This means having 5 or more drinks on one occasion.)
Severe problems caused by alcohol exposure are called
fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). If you have a history of
heavy drinking during pregnancy, a thorough developmental evaluation of your
baby should be done when he or she is about 18 months old. It should include hearing,
speech, and language testing.
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