Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

What Is FASD

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term used to describe the range of neurological and behavioral effects caused by drinking alcohol during a pregnancy. It refers to specific conditions such as:

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  • Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (PFAS)
  • Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND)
  • Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD)

Why It Matters

FASD is a brain-based physical disability.  As such, FASD is life-long and cannot be cured.  FASD is a birth defect that is 100% preventable.  If no woman consumed any alcohol during her entire pregnancy, no child would be born with an FASD.


Quote From A Parent

"Although, it hurt to learn the impact of my alcohol use on my child,
it helped me to map out how to help him. Thanks to the diagnosis, my son is
getting the help he needs, is less frustrated and happier."


How Can I Tell If A Child Has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders?

Most children with FASD may look completely normal. You cannot physically see brain damage, you can only see the results of brain damage through thebehaviorsof the individual.

The key characteristics of FASD brain damage are:

  • Difficulty with assessment, judgment, impulse control and reasoning which often lands them in trouble at home, at school, and with the law (They may be able to recite the rules, but they are unable to use them to govern their behavior).
  • Misunderstanding of cause and effect which often leads to high rates of recidivism in the criminal system and problems with discipline because they are unable to predict the consequences of their actions
  • Inability to generalize or think abstractly means that they are unable to apply lessons learned in one situation to another (They may understand that they’re not to run into the street in front of their house, but may not be able to apply that lesson instinctively to other streets).
  • Trouble focusing and hyperactivity, poor memory, emotional immaturity and social skill deficits, and learning disabilities often mean that they perform poorly in school,have trouble holding jobs, and can be difficult to manage at home.

Contact the for questions about diagnoses.

The Prevalence of FASD

Conservatively, FASD may occur in 1 in 100 live births nationally . That means that out of approximately 380,000 Texas births occurring every year, 3,800 babies may have FASD.

  • In the U.S., each year about ...
    • 2,000 children are born with spina bifida .
    • 1 in 1,000 children are born with Down Syndrome .
    • 11,630 children get childhood cancer .
    • 2 in 1,000 children are born with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes .
    • New research indicates that as many as 2-5% of our nation's children may have an FASD .

Financial Implications of FAS and FASD

Of all the FASD disorders, FAS is the least common and most severe. The cost of FAS to the nation is an estimated $3.6 billion each year.  The lifetime costs for an individual with FASD is about $2 million .


FACT 1 | Alcohol can adversely affect the fetus at any time, causing “hidden” birth defects because the brain and central nervous system are developing throughout the entire pregnancy.
FACT 2 | There is no cure for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and special supports and accommodations may be required throughout an individual’s life.
FACT 3 | ​It is important to remember that FASD is a lifelong condition with effects that differ throughout the lifespan. These effects cannot be changed, but they can be accommodated. Individuals with FASD can grow, improve, and learn to function well in life with proper support and services and accommodations. By catching the problem early, we can set up individuals with FASD for success, not failure, and make sure that they don’t fall through the cracks in the system.
FACT 4 | "Secondary disabilities” result from brain damage sustained due to alcohol exposure in the womb. Several protective factors can be provided to help people with FASD avoid these secondary disabilities such as: early diagnosis, eligibility for disability services, a stable home, and a life free of violence.​


Educate and Spread the Word

  • Educate within your community or organization
  • Find out more about how you can join or support the FASD Collaborative in Texas
  • and find out ways you can help


    Texas FASD Collaborative Facilitator

    Leah Davies, L.M.S.W.
    Associate Director
    Texas Office for Prevention of
    Developmental Disabilities


    TheTexasFASD Collaborative2.jpg

    Want To Help?

    We want to hear from you! The FASD Collaborative of Texas is dedicated to improving health and wellness in the state through prevention of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and improved social services.


    Did You Know?

    Statistics concerning the population of individuals with FASDs:

    - 35% have alcohol and drug problems

    - 35% of adults and adolescents had been in prison for a crime

    - 45% engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior

    - 60% of those over the age of 12 have been charged with or convicted of a crime

    - 60% had disrupted school experiences

    - 72% had experienced physical or sexual abuse, or domestic violence

    - 82% are unable to live independently

    - 94% also have a mental illness

    - 100% of the cases were preventable



    For More Information