Happy Learners - Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Any amount of alcohol can lead to developmental changes in the unborn child. The risks increase in proportion to the amount consumed by the mother with binge drinking being particularly significant. During the first trimester the foetus is incredibly vulnerable to damage and this therefore includes a period when mothers may be unaware that they are pregnant. Miscarriages are therefore a common result. Where alcohol has been consumed at any stage of pregnancy then there will be increased risk of premature birth and stillbirths.

Common developmental problems associated with FAS

Needs and Diagnoses

As these children mature and begin they will present with additional learning and behaviour needs. As it is often hard to prove FAS; unless maternal alcohol use was monitored during pregnancy or there is clear history of alcohol abuse; they may often get other diagnoses such as:

Even where FAS is proven the above may be diagnosed as co-morbid conditions as well as physical impairments such as vision and hearing.

Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS)

This is a diagnosis when a child does not present with all the features associated as FAS.

Supporting the FAS child

An individualised programme of support will usually be necessary to enable the child to access school and the curriculum. The nature of support will depend on the individual needs of the child but is likely to include:

You may also be interested in the following pages

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Working Memory