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Module 4: FASD Signs and Symptoms

Introduction

Alcohol is a teratogen that can damage brain cells. Children prenatally exposed to alcohol may have developmental delays, intellectual deficits, and academic and behavioral problems. Specific problems can include deficits in:

  • Cognition
  • Arousal and attention
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Auditory processing
  • Language sequencing
  • Receptive speech (can talk better than can understand)
  • Social and emotional development1

There is no comprehensive list of behaviors associated with prenatal alcohol exposure. However, a cluster of behaviors exists that may signal central nervous system (CNS) damage from prenatal alcohol exposure. Cognitive and behavioral problems caused by alcohol change during development and are expressed among individuals affected by an FASD in many different ways. Signs may include:

  • Developmental delays
  • Hyperactivity
  • Problems with attention or learning
  • Intellectual deficits2

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