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Alcohol Alcohol Suppl. 1993;2:209-12.

Fetal alcohol syndrome in older patients.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.


Data from several recent studies is presented showing that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) has long term consequences. Even though the face is not as distinctive after puberty and the growth deficiency may not be as pronounced as in the young child, the Central Nervous System (CNS) effects continue throughout life. Only about half of the patients with the full FAS are mentally retarded (IQ < 70) and those with higher IQ scores are often at greater risk due to the unavailability of needed educational, vocational, and social services. Recent work indicates significant adaptive behavior deficits in adolescents and adults with both FAS and FAE (possible Fetal Alcohol Effects), particularly in the areas of socialization and communication skills. Almost none of the 61 patients studied had achieved fully independent living. Mental health problems, alcoholism and drug abuse, antisocial behaviors, and repeated pregnancies (for the woman) were common problems. Early diagnosis, early job skills training and sheltered living situations are needed for patients with FAS to prevent the onset of secondary psychopathology. FAS is a totally preventable developmental disability. Continued public awareness and professional education about not drinking during pregnancy is urgently needed.

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