Although doctors can't diagnose fetal alcohol syndrome before a baby is born, they can assess the health of mother and baby during pregnancy. If you report the timing and amount of alcohol consumption, your obstetrician or other health care provider can help determine the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome.
If you let your child's doctor know that you drank alcoholic beverages during your pregnancy, he or she can watch for signs and symptoms of this syndrome in your child's initial weeks, months and years of life. To make a diagnosis, doctors will assess:
- Facial features
- Heart health
- Cognitive ability
- Language development
- Motor skills
Doctors may refer a child with possible fetal alcohol syndrome to a medical genetics specialist to rule out other disorders with similar signs and symptoms.
If one child in your family is diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, it's important to evaluate his or her siblings to determine whether they also have fetal alcohol syndrome.
May. 21, 2011
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- Drinking alcohol during pregnancy. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/alcohol_indepth.html. Accessed March 30, 2011.
- Effects of alcohol on a fetus. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//SMA07-4255/SMA07-4255.pdf. Accessed March 30, 2011.
- Burd L, et al. Diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: A validity study of the fetal alcohol syndrome checklist. Alcohol. 2010;44:605.
- Understanding fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Getting a diagnosis. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. http://fasdcenter.samhsa.gov/documents/WYNKDiagnosis_5_colorJA_new.pdf. Accessed March 30, 2011.