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What are the primary characteristics and symptoms of FASD?

Characteristics of FASD fall into five broad categories:

  • Maternal alcohol exposure (may or may not be able to be confirmed)
  • Facial anomalies (may or may not be present)
  • Growth retardation
    Babies’ heads are smaller than normal. Young children are small and slender. They don’t gain weight in a normal way, even when on high-nutrition diets. Their weight is very low compared to their height.
  • Central nervous system problems
    This includes structural brain abnormalities as well as neurodevelopmental problems, such as difficulty feeding, poor eye-hand coordination and gait problems.
  • Cognitive deficits
    This includes a wide range of learning and behavioral problems.

In addition, birth defects may co-exist because of the global damage that alcohol causes to a developing fetus.

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