Self-management

Coping and support

The psychological and emotional problems associated with fetal alcohol syndrome can be difficult to manage for the person with the syndrome and for the family.

Family support

Children with fetal alcohol syndrome and their families may benefit from the support of professionals and other families who have experience with this syndrome. Ask your health care provider, social worker or mental health professional for local sources of support for children with fetal alcohol syndrome and their families.

Dealing with behavioral problems

As a parent of a child with fetal alcohol syndrome, you may find the following suggestions helpful in dealing with behavioral problems associated with the syndrome. Learning these skills (sometimes called parent training) can include:

  • Recognizing your child's strengths and limitations
  • Implementing daily routines
  • Creating and enforcing simple rules and limits
  • Keeping things simple by using concrete, specific language
  • Using repetition to reinforce learning
  • Pointing out and using rewards to reinforce acceptable behavior
  • Teaching skills for daily living and social interactions
  • Guarding against your child being taken advantage of by others because many children with fetal alcohol syndrome are at risk of this

Early intervention and a stable, nurturing home are important factors in protecting children with fetal alcohol syndrome from some of the secondary disabilities they're at risk of later in life.

Prevention

Experts know that fetal alcohol syndrome is completely preventable if women don't drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.

These guidelines can help prevent fetal alcohol syndrome:

  • Don't drink alcohol if you're trying to get pregnant. If you haven't already stopped drinking, stop as soon as you know you're pregnant or if you even think you might be pregnant. It's never too late to stop drinking during your pregnancy, but the sooner you stop, the better it is for your baby.
  • Continue to avoid alcohol throughout your pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome is completely preventable in children whose mothers don't drink during pregnancy.
  • Consider giving up alcohol during your childbearing years if you're sexually active and you're having unprotected sex. Many pregnancies are unplanned, and damage can occur in the earliest weeks of pregnancy.
  • If you have an alcohol problem, get help before you get pregnant. Get professional help to determine your level of dependence on alcohol and to develop a treatment plan.