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Frequently Asked Questions

Information | Age Comparison Table | Developing Baby | Secondary Disabilities | FAQ's

Do Children Outgrow FASD?

People often ask, or often assume, that fetal alcohol syndrome is a condition associated with children, a condition that is “outgrown” as the child grows into an adolescent and then an adult. Perhaps because of the word “fetal” or because of the apparent changes in facial features as a child enters puberty, but, the reality is that fetal alcohol syndrome (FASD) and all other birth defects resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol are permanent.

FASD refers to a permanent birth defect syndrome caused by maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. The condition is characterized by pre-and/or postnatal growth deficiency, a specific set of minor facial anomalies, and prenatal alteration in brain function, causing a variety of central nervous system disorders that can include neurological abnormalities, delays in development, intellectual impairments, learning and behavior disabilities and in some cases mental retardation.

Alcohol is a teratogen that can cause fetal malformations in the form of permanent structural changes to the brain, to cells and to normal growth and development patterns. Once the malformations have occurred, the damage is irreversible.

But, with all this said, it does not mean that the outcomes for an individual affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol can not improve with time, with services and with appropriate structures and interventions in place. Like all disabilities, improvements can be made in how a person adjusts to their disability, what types of services are provided to accommodate the disability and what kinds of ongoing trainings and supports are in place to help the individual be successful. This is why it is so critical that all children with this disability get an early diagnosis, that appropriate service plans are developed and that those services providers and caregivers working with this disability truly understand the nature of FASD and the impact on an individual’s ability to function. With diagnosis, specialized services and a supported living environment, individuals with all fetal alcohol spectrum disorders can be successful living with their disability.

Posted Winter 2002