Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of conditions and disabilities that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is 100% preventable – the only cause is alcohol use during pregnancy. If a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy, her child will not have an FASD.

FASD cannot be cured, and the effects vary widely from person-to-person. Severe brain damage is the most serious effect, while others may include physical, mental, social, behavioral and/or learning disabilities. FASD is under recognized and is often misdiagnosed as autism spectrum disorder, emotional/behavior disorder, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

When FASD is misdiagnosed, children do not receive the kind of help they need. The average level of developmental skills for children with FASD is generally about half their actual age. The lifetime cost for each child with fetal alcohol syndrome can reach $2 million for medical, educational, and residential care. Fetal alcohol syndrome is estimated to cost Minnesotans $107.4 million annually.

FASDs are vastly under recognized in southwest Minnesota. The SWROC and University of Minnesota Extension provide professional development and education opportunities for individuals who parent or work with children affected by an FASD. A network to enhance resources for families in southwest Minnesota who have a child with an FASD is also being developed. FASD - Why we should be concerned provides more information on FASDs in southwest Minnesota and our efforts.

Diagnostic Clinics

Additional FASD Resources