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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Congenital malformations associated with the mother's heavy consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. These include restricted growth, facial abnormalities, and learning and behavioural disorders, which are long lasting and may be lifelong. Other conditions that may arise from exposure to alcohol include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, learning disorders, behavioural problems, problems with liver, kidneys, heart or other organisms, hearing and sight problems, and a weakened immune system.

Some children may develop only mild signs or symptoms, whereas other may be severely affected.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is used to describe the condition associated with alcohol intake in pregnancy where the characteristics of FAS are not fully manifested. No 'dose' of alcohol is known to be safe in pregnancy, so current advice is that women should abstain completely from drinking alcohol while trying to conceive and during pregnancy. Women who find it difficult to limit or exclude alcohol should be offered referral to local counselling or support services.

Further reading/Resources

Department of Health (2016) UK Chief Medical Officers' Alcohol Guidelines Review. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/489795/summary.pdf

FASD Trust. Support for those affected by FASD, and training/information for healthcare professionals. Available at: http://www.fasdtrust.co.uk

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