Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Adults

Written by Nicole LaNeve

& Medically Reviewed by Nanci Stockwell, LCSW, MBA

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Last Updated - 10/28/2022

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Updated 10/28/2022

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Adults

As an adult with fetal alcohol syndrome, you’re going to be facing a series of uphill battles. Fetal alcohol syndrome or FAS is a group of overlying conditions and signs that point to the condition.

Below we highlight what fetal alcohol syndrome is, the long-term effects of FAS, how you can prevent fetal alcohol syndrome from occurring, and the treatment options you’ll have available.

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Every single year thousands of babies across America are born with FAS, a preventable developmental condition.

Fetal alcohol syndrome occurs when the mother drinks during pregnancy and the developing fetus is exposed to alcohol. Some common symptoms that arise from FAS include slower development of the child, growing less quickly than children their age, mental retardation, and other facial abnormalities.

What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

The Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse During Pregnancy

Some of the most common effects and symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome, or fetal alcohol abuse syndrome are shown below:

  • Small jaw
  • Thin upper lip
  • Flattened cheeks
  • Smaller eyes with dropping eyelids
  • Mental retardation
  • Slow development of motor skills
  • Impaired language development and function
  • Memory and cognitive development problems
  • Hyperactivity
  • Hearing disorders
  • Smaller skull size
  • Low birth weight

In the long term, FAS can cause a host of secondary conditions and issues that tend to make life much more difficult. The most common secondary conditions are highlighted below:

  • Mental development issues, such as ADD, depression, and certain psychotic disorders
  • Problems in school due to difficulty getting along with others, and learning difficulties
  • Legal issues due to problems controlling anger, and understanding social and communicative cues
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
The Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse During Pregnancy

Preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome is caused by a woman drinking during her pregnancy. When a woman drinks when she is pregnant the blood travels through her body, through the placenta, to the developing fetus. Since a fetus will break down alcohol much slower than an adult, the alcohol will stay in their bodies much longer, which is what causes FAS.

Women who consume high levels of alcohol during pregnancy increase the risk of their child developing FAS. However, even small amounts of alcohol have been linked to fetal alcohol syndrome. If you’re pregnant, the only way to ensure that fetal alcohol syndrome doesn’t develop is to refrain from alcohol completely. 

Treatment Options for FAS in Adults

There are no known treatment options for FAS that will actually reverse the condition. However, children who are diagnosed at a young age, usually before the preschool years, have a better chance at overcoming some of the symptoms due to a customized education and development plan.

Self-Assessment: Are You an Alcoholic?

If you’re about to become a parent or have a pregnant loved one who struggles with alcohol, then it’s important to seek out alcohol addiction treatment as soon as possible. The only way to prevent FAS is to stop drinking. If you, or a loved one, is a heavy drinker, then an alcohol/drug detox might be necessary to get the recovery process started.

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake has a proven track record of providing caring and successful alcohol abuse treatment at our facilities in Palmer Lake, Colorado. Contact one of our team members today to learn how alcohol rehab can benefit you help prevent FAS. Get in touch with our team of alcohol addiction and recovery experts to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome from occurring.


CDC. “Basics about FASDs.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 21, 2021. Accessed June 16, 2021.


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