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Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is a term that describes the range of effects that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. The effects can include physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities. FASD is the leading known cause of intellectual disability. The effects of FASD can be mild to severe and last a lifetime.

Adults with an FASD might appear normal at first. But adults with an FASD might have a hard time getting along with others. They might use poor judgment. Their behavior may change from one day to the next. They may come across as unreliable. FASD also appears to be related to mental illness, substance abuse, and other problems. Together, these impairments make it hard for people with an FASD to keep up with the everyday demands at work, at home, and in relationships.

With good support, adults with FASD can function well in their community. People with more mild effects of FASD might need to learn skills to help them overcome their limitations. People with more severe effects of FASD might need day-to-day support with decision-making and to keep them safe.

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Content last updated: September 22, 2009.

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