About FASD

About FASD

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are a range of effects that can occur when a developing embryo is prenatally exposed to alcohol, even before there is a confirmed pregnancy. FASD can include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications.


Since there is no known safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy, it is advised by all major medical associations, including the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the U.S. Surgeon General, that if a person is pregnant or could become pregnant, they should abstain from drinking alcohol.


Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of birth defects in the United States. In the United States, up to 1 in 20 children has a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). This makes FASD more common than spina bifida, anencephaly, and trisomy 18. FASD is also more common than autism, which affects 1 in 59 children.  It is estimated that 19,600 babies are born in North Carolina with alcohol exposure each year.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are

Percent Preventable

Frequently Asked Questions

What is FASD?

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can impact fetal development and cause irreversible birth defects and brain injury.1 Children with prenatal alcohol exposure are at risk of having fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). FASD is not a diagnosis but rather an umbrella term describing the range of birth defects caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications.2 There are many terms under the FASD umbrella, including these medical diagnoses:3

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  • Alcohol Related Neuro-developmental Disorders (ARND)
  • Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD)
  • Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS)

Unfortunately, there is not a simple medical test (such as a blood test) that can be used to confirm a diagnosis. Instead, FASD is diagnosed by a team of trained professionals. Click here to learn more about the screening process.



  1. Burd L, Blair J, Dropps K. Prenatal alcohol exposure, blood alcohol concentrations and alcohol elimination rates for the mother, fetus and newborn. Journal of Perinatology. 2012;32(9):652-659.
  2. Noor S, Milligan ED. Lifelong Impacts of Moderate Prenatal Alcohol Exposure on Neuroimmune Function. Frontiers in Immunology. 2018.
  3. Gross AC, Deling LA, Wozniak JR, Boys CJ. Objective measures of executive functioning are highly discrepant with parent-report in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Child Neuropsychology. 2015;2(4):531-538.

We’re happy to share the research with you, but you can also read what the most trusted medical organizations in the world say:
(Spoiler: They all support alcohol-free pregnancies!)