What Are Some Physical Effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?


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Children affected by fetal alcohol syndrome have physical characteristics including small eyes with drooping upper lids; short, upturned noses; flat cheeks; small jaws; and thin upper lips, according to WebMD. Other signs of fetal alcohol syndrome include decreased birth weight, growth retardation and small skull size.

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In addition to causing physical deformities, fetal alcohol syndrome also causes central nervous system problems, reports WebMD. This central nervous system damage manifests as developmental delays in infants and children. Fetal alcohol syndrome delays gross and fine motor skills, such as rolling over, sitting up, walking, grasping objects and transferring objects between hands. Hyperactivity, mental retardation, impaired language development and learning difficulties are also characteristics of the syndrome.

Secondary conditions that develop as a result of this syndrome are common. These conditions include attention deficit disorder, conduct disorder, depression and psychotic episodes, lists WebMD. Over one-third of those affected by fetal alcohol syndrome also require treatment for drug and alcohol abuse at some point later in life. Those born with fetal alcohol syndrome sometimes have a harder time controlling anger; therefore, teens and adults with the syndrome are at an increased risk of committing violent acts and becoming involved with the criminal justice system. There is also data that suggests these individuals have a harder time successfully living alone and holding a job.

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