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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2007;31(2):230-8. Epub 2006 Sep 7.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: a practical clinical approach to diagnosis.

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Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5208, USA.


In utero exposure to alcohol can have numerous adverse effects on a developing fetus. These effects represent a spectrum of structural anomalies and neurocognitive and behavioral disabilities that have recently been termed fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Children at the most severe end of this spectrum and displaying the complete phenotype of characteristic facial anomalies, growth retardation and developmental abnormalities of the central nervous system are defined as having fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). While FAS is the most readily clinically recognized form of FASD, other categories within the continuum of adverse effects due to prenatal alcohol exposure are becoming better defined. These include partial fetal alcohol syndrome (PFAS), alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD) and alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND). As more is learned regarding the exact manifestations of alcohol on brain development, these classifications may be expanded and/or refined. Because FASD represents a major public health concern, early recognition of at-risk children is important for initiating interventional strategies. Thus, the purpose of this report is to educate practicing physicians about the recognizable phenotypes of FASD in order to accurately identify these children and implement the most appropriate management plans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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