The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the current literature on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. In general, reviewed studies focus on medical, educational, and family issues.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is an disorder arising from fetal abnormalities which were caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Abel and Sokol (1991) have noted that the condition is increasing in American newborns and that the incremented annual cost of treating this disorder is estimated at $74.6 million. About 78% of this economic burden is associated with care of FAS cases with mental retardation and low birth weight. Hatfield (1986) has stated that the last 10 to 15 yrs have
provided a growing body of evidence that demonstrates a distinct relationship between excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy and birth defects. Indeed, she reports that in light of this voluminous quantity of research, no responsible health professional or researcher would deny that alcohol can cause fetal abnormalities if consumed chronically and in large quantities.
Alcohol appears to effect the fetus directly; for example, Clarke-Stewart, Friedman and Koch (1985) reported that in a study of pregnant women who drank an ounce of 80 proof vodka, the fetus of every woman momentarily stopped breathing at some point between 3 and 30 minutes after the alcohol was ingested.
Niermeijer (1984) reviewed the literature on the role of genetic factors in the development of alcoholism and the fetal risk of maternal alcohol consumption. He concluded that recent data from family, twin, and adoption studies confirm that genetic factors contribute to the development of alcoholism, although the precise mechanism is not understood. Multifactorial models and predisposing factors are being investigated.
Rice (1991) states that at least 30 percent of newborn children of alcoholic mothers are affected severely by the fetal alcohol syndrome and 4045 percent show ...