April is Fetal Alcohol Awareness month. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a discussion about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) in healthychildren.org. They describe FASD as an umbrella term used to describe the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects can have lifelong implications including physical, mental, behavior and/or learning disabilities.

The exact number of children who have an FASD is difficult to determine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates between 800 and 8,000 babies in the U.S. could be born each year with full Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Part of the difficulty in obtaining an exact number is that only 20 percent of the individuals have abnormal bodily features that are diagnostic of fetal alcohol exposure. It’s felt that the number of children affected is much higher because of the limitations in diagnosis.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

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