In Alcohol Abuse, Clearbrook Treatment Centers Pennsylvania, Family Resources, Personal Resources

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a type of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) that occurs in people whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome is characterized by a problem with mental development and physical growth, particularly that of the skull and face. As a result, there are certain physical signs of fetal alcohol syndrome in adults that are indicative of this condition.

Causes of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome occurs when alcohol enters the bloodstream of an unborn child or when a woman consumes alcohol while pregnant. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, a portion of it is crossed into the placenta and enters the fetus. Because the liver of a fetus cannot process alcohol the way the liver of an adult can, a variety of adverse side effects occur in the unborn child.

Some causes of fetal alcohol syndrome include:

  • Healthy cell death, which disrupts the normal development of the mind and body
  • Harm in the development of the nerve cells, increasing the risk of various physical and mental health conditions
  • Reduced blood flow to the placenta, depriving the fetus of oxygen and nutrients necessary for proper development
  • Brain damage to the fetus as a result of toxic alcohol byproducts

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Symptoms in Adults

The signs of FAS are most noticeable in people when they are children and may vary in intensity. Newborns with FAS usually have low body weight and are behind in physical growth. They may also show certain facial malformations, such as small eye sockets, smooth skin between the nose and upper lip rather than a crease, and flattened cheekbones.

All these signs are still apparent in adulthood. FAS adults may also show signs of their condition as their facial features change with age. Common long-term effects of fetal alcohol syndrome in adults also include alcohol-related birth defects (ARBDs), which include problems with the heart, kidneys, skeleton, ears, and eyes.

Adult fetal alcohol effects tend to be more challenging than during childhood. Common symptoms and signs of fetal alcohol syndrome in adults include:

  • Short stature
  • Small head size
  • Thin upper lip
  • Reduced brain size
  • Problems with attention and concentrating
  • Learning and memory problems
  • Difficulty processing emotions
  • Aggression and irritability
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder


In cases where adult symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome aren’t physically apparent, these individuals may struggle with mental and behavioral concerns linked to alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND). ARND leads to developmental disabilities that can affect behavior, learning, and memory without the indicative facial features of FAS.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Face in Adults

The most common way of diagnosing adults with fetal alcohol syndrome is by looking at their facial features. However, this matter usually becomes more complicated as children grow up. Children with FAS tend to have more physically defined features of the condition than adults with this disorder, making FAS easier to diagnose in children than adults.

Nonetheless, doctors can still evaluate and perceive FAS in adults based on facial features like:

  • A small head
  • A thin upper lip
  • Short stature
  • Small eye sockets
  • Smooth skin between the nose and upper lip rather than a crease
  • Flat cheekbones

Although there is no cure for FAS, there are treatments available for children with this condition. The sooner a child is diagnosed with and treated for fetal alcohol syndrome, the better their development will be.

Addiction Treatment for Pregnant Women

The most obvious and effective way of preventing FAS is to not drink alcohol while pregnant. This syndrome is preventable if alcohol is not consumed by the mother during pregnancy. It’s also important to avoid drinking alcohol if you’re trying to conceive or already think you have.

Take a pregnancy test as soon as you think you’ve conceived. Tell your doctor if you believe you drank alcohol after the time of conception and stop drinking alcohol immediately. Unfortunately, many pregnant women are also going through the stages of alcoholism.

There are plenty of pregnant women who can’t stop drinking despite their unborn children. However, our Pennsylvania drug rehab is happy to say that we offer rehab for pregnant women with alcohol or drug addictions so they may heal and offer a better future to their children.

From medically monitored detox to individual and group-based counseling, specialists at our Northeast recovery center offer everything expecting mothers will need to overcome their substance use disorders. For more information about our inpatient drug treatment in Pennsylvania, call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621.


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