Any Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is diagnosed by assessing the four key features that were first identified in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in 1973.
FAS requires a positive and severe finding in all four key features, but other FASD conditions may vary across a continuum of severity. FAS is the only expression of FASD that has garnered consensus among experts to become an official ICD-9 and ICD-10 diagnosis.
The four key features of FASD that are assessed with any diagnostic system include:
- Growth Deficiency (height and/or weight)
- FAS Facial Features (small eyes, flattened philtrum, thinned upper lip)
- Central Nervous System (CNS) damage (either physical damage or functional problems)
- Prenatal alcohol exposure level (confirmed, unknown, or no exposure)
The following criteria must be fully met for an FAS diagnosis:
- Growth deficiency – Prenatal or postnatal height or weight (or both) at or below the 10th percentile at any point in life,
- FAS facial features – All three FAS facial features present,
- Central nervous system damage – Clinically significant structural, neurological, or functional impairment, and
- Prenatal alcohol exposure – Confirmed or Unknown prenatal alcohol exposure.
Is FAS worse than other FASD conditions? No.
The fact is that other FASD conditions have more secondary disabilities.
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