FASD is the acronym for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. FASD is not a medical diagnosis, but an umbrella term that describes a range of conditions that can occur in individuals whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy. The four types of FASD are Fetal Alcohol Syndrom (FAS), Partial FAS (pFAS), Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARND), and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD).
An individual’s specific FASD type depends on four measurable factors, but it often manifests in complex and unpredictable behavioral functioning.
Briefly, FASD type is determined by the severity level of these four criteria:
1. Confirmed Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (PAE),
2. Growth Deficiencies in height or weight due to PAE,
3. Minor but specific FAS Facial Features that occasionally result from PAE, and
4. Abnormalities in the Central Nervous System (CNS) from PAE, which can be structural (assessed by measuring head circumference), neurological (assessed by brain scans or neurological soft signs) or functional (assessed by psychological tests).
FAS is a medical diagnosis – the only medical diagnosis included in the FASD umbrella, and demonstrates severity in all four areas measured.
Problems with any of the following areas of functioning can result from PAE to the central nervous system: Physical, motor, mental, behavioral, sensory, memory, social, attention, communication, executive functioning, or learning disabilities. All of these may produce lifelong challenges.