Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Words: 1155
Topic: Health & Medicine

According to the research study conducted by Mcgee et al. (2009), classroom behavior between children diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and those growing typically normal revealed a marked difference in the social communication profiles of the two groups. A total of 24 children clustered into 12 pairs took part in empirical study.

The classroom observation proceeded for a period of two weeks, 20 minutes each day. Handheld computers were used to record performance based on the Social Communication Coding System. There are six behavioral dimensions measured by the system. For instance, the children were examined in terms of their tendencies towards being pro-social or engaged, assertiveness, passiveness, hostility, coerciveness and orientation towards adult-seeking (Mcgee et al., 2009).

Results from this study indicated that the tendency towards being passive or being disengaged was more pronounced in children with Fetal Alcohol Disorder (FAS) than their corresponding peers. In addition, irrelevant behavior prevailed for a long time among children with FAS than those without. Besides, pro-social and engage behavior was more dominant in children with FAS.

Nonetheless, the proportion and mean time spent by these children as pro-social characters was relatively shorter than in children without FAS diagnosis. From these findings, it is evident that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can indeed impart long term behavioral patterns in children and adolescents.

The ability to interact or socialize with age-mates is usually a daunting task for school-age children with this condition. This can be noted easily especially when they are observed in a classroom environment.

Moreover, such difficulty with social communication can also be a common concern for parents and teachers under the care of the affected children. The exact nature of their problems is often cumbersome to establish bearing in mind that inability to interact smoothly with their peers transcends into poor academic performance (Mcgee et al., 2009).

The prevalence of teratogen and its subsequent disruption of fetus growth has been an issue under deliberation for the last four decades or so. As Thomas, Warren & Hewitt (2010) note, prenatal exposure of fetus to alcohol can lead to the development of negative chronic impacts on the behavioral, psychological (neurological) and physical wellbeing of children even as they grow to maturity. The authors further clarify that the long term effects of FAS can be classified into three.

First, facial dysmorphology is a common chronic impact in children diagnosed with FAS. Second, there are myriad deficiencies that arise during the prenatal period that equally affect the postnatal stages of development.

Lastly, exposure of the fetus in an alcoholic environment during pregnancy has a long term effect on the central nervous system since the latter may end up malfunctioning with time. However, there are instances when earl y exposure to alcohol may not necessarily lead to all of these effects even if the affected child attains the full-blown stage of the syndrome.

Early research studies conducted on FAS indicated that prenatal exposure to alcohol was a major pathway to the development of small brain, a condition known as microencephaly (Thomas, Warren & Hewitt, 2010). Besides, FAS has also been associated with neuroglial heterotopias whereby cells located within the nervous system reposition themselves to wrong locations. Moreover, the growth of corpus callosum is significantly interfered with among children who were exposed to alcohol during the prenatal stage.

Subsequent research carried out on the likely impacts of FAS in children and adolescents also gave unanimous results when the noninvasive imaging of the brain structure was done (Thomas, Warren & Hewitt, 2010). Results obtained from structural imaging showed that there was appreciable shrinking of brain size. Participation as well as occupational performance is dully affected among children affected with FAS.

For instance, their cognition ability may be impaired as they grow up, poor learning capabilities as well as deficits in sensory-motor abilities (Jirikowic, Kartin & Olson, 2008). These children also develop near-permanent adaptive challenges alongside behavioral and social difficulties. Later in life, the impacts of FAS on children often replicates themselves on day-to-day activities such as engaging in drug abuse, poor performance in school and reduced ability to live independently.

As Jirikowic, Kartin and Olson (2008) recommend, occupational therapists should endeavor to promote participation and social interaction among people with this disorder as part and parcel of reverting their physical and neurobehavioral patterns to normalcy. Furthermore, early diagnosis and onset of therapeutic treatment has been suggested as an important ingredient in treating patients identified with this disorder.

As already mentioned, this population is adversely affected by deficiency in adaptive skills. Quite often, they have lower adaptive skills that do not match either their age or intellectual level. According to this context, adaptive behavior primarily addresses how individuals perform their daily tasks and chores in order to meet their social and individual needs.

Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) have also been identified to be at a higher risk of developing a disorder called Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). An empirical research study conducted by Doig, McLennan and Gibbard (2008) confirms the correlation between ADHD and prenatal exposure to alcohol. Nonetheless, the researchers have expressed fears that there is inadequate information regarding the successful treatment of ADHD among this group of people.

On the long term impacts of FAS on children, the study hypothesized and later concluded that this syndrome has the potential to restrict growth as well as enhance neuropsychologic deficiencies. Worse still, the syndrome is a major precipitator of craniofacial abnormalities as depicted in the research outcome (Doig, McLennan & Gibbard, 2008). Moreover, cormobid mental health complication has also been identified in children suffering from FAS.

in a separate but related research by lswang, Svensson and Astley (2010), it has been adequately documented that children diagnosed with FAS often face difficult times in resolving disputes as they keenly anticipate the effects of their behaviors. In this research study, nine children who had gone through prenatal exposure to alcohol were investigated. These individuals were also found to have difficulties in expressing themselves in comparison to their peers who had grown in an alcohol-free prenatal environment.

In recap, it is vital to note that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is one of the many syndromes that fall under the umbrella of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) occasioned by early exposure of fetus to an alcoholic environment by a pregnant mother. Although other syndromes exist, the discussion on FAS cannot be ignored due to myriad long term effects of the condition on children and adolescents.

For instance, school-age children identified with FAS have been found to have difficulties in expressing themselves through language, inability to solve conflicts, among other neuropsychological and physical deficits such as reduction in brain size and higher prevalence of Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Nevertheless, further research on this subject is highly recommended in order to examine other latent and most precarious effects of FAS on children as well as enhanced drug and therapeutic treatment options that can be used to manage, revert or completely cure this disorder.


Doig, J., McLennan, J., & Gibbard, W. (2008). Medication Effects on Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 18(4), 365-71.

lswang, L., Svensson, L., & Astley, S. (2010). Observation of Classroom Social Communication: Do Children With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Spend Their Time Differently Than Their Typically Developing Peers? Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 53(6), 1687-1703A.

Jirikowic, T., Kartin, D., & Olson, H. (2008). Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: A descriptive profile of adaptive function. The Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 75(4), 238-48.

Mcgee, C. et al. (2009). Social Information Processing Skills in Children with Histories of Heavy Prenatal Alcohol Exposure. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37(6), 817-30.

Thomas, J., Warren, K., & Hewitt, B. (2010). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: From Research to Policy. Alcohol Research and Health, 33(1/2), 118-126.