Age Comparison Table |
What is FAE?
There is much confusion about
the varied terminology used to describe an individual affected by
prenatal exposure to alcohol. Fetal alcohol
syndrome (FASD) and other conditions associated with prenatal
to alcohol refer to a group of physical and mental birth
These birth defects are medical and disability conditions
a physician, in partnership with other trained professionals.
As we all
know, securing a diagnosis can be difficult because the
associated with prenatal exposure to alcohol are often
subtle and may
go unrecognized or be misdiagnosed or mislabeled. Fetal
(FAE) is a term that has traditionally been used to categorized all of those
individuals affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol that
did not meet
the criteria for fetal alcohol syndrome (FASD). FASD is a
that requires the presence of the following four criteria:
1. Delayed prenatal and/or postnatal growth (resulting
and/or weight below the tenth percentile).
2. Central nervous system abnormalities (e.g. small head
circumference, developmental delay, intellectual function
delay, mental retardation, attention deficit disorders).
3. Characteristic facial features including
short palpebral fissures (small eyes), abnormal philtrum (groove above the lip),
thin upper lip.
4. Reasonable knowledge that individual was prenatally
it is often assumed that other alcohol-related birth
FAE are less severe than FASD, this is not always the
often individuals with other alcohol-related conditions
do not have the
associated facial features. However, they can have neurological
delays in development, intellectual impairments and learning/
behavior disabilities or other types of CNS impairment.
Often times FAE
is more severe than FASD and the lifelong impacts can
In an effort to begin clarifying
this confusing terminology, a new
term has come to the forefront—Fetal Alcohol Spectrum
(FASD). FASD is the most recent attempt to more clearly
essence of the clinical problem, acknowledging the reality
alcohol exposure causes a wide range of effects. FASD
subtypes: fetal alcohol syndrome (FASD), partial FASD and
neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND).
The most important thing to remember is
that alcohol is a teratogen
and can cause lifelong, permanent birth defects for any
child exposed to
alcohol prenatally. The effects for each individual are
varied due to the
tremendous variability associated with consumption of
pregnancy. The more we learn about FASD, the better we
can serve those
already affected and the better our prevention efforts
Posted Fall 2001