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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Getting Social Security Disability


[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="English: Baby with the FAS-syndrome. Deutsch: Baby mit Fetalem Alkoholsyndrom. Charakteristika: Vergleichsweise kleine Augen mit schmalen, teils herabhängenden Augenlidern, schmales (Ober-) Lippenrot und wenig modulierte, flache oder fehlende Mittelrinne (Philtrum) zwischen Nase und Oberlippe und dünne Oberlippe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)"]English: Baby with the FAS-syndrome. Deutsch: ...[/caption]

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is a broad and inclusive term. It encompasses all of the problems that may develop when a person has prenatal alcohol exposure. When an expectant mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy, there are several different mental, neurological and physical difficulties that may take place which range in severity.

The best known of these problems that fall under the umbrella of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the primary causes of mental retardation. In fact, it is the only cause of mental retardation that can be completely 100% prevented.

The signs and symptoms of FAS last a lifetime and are not reversible. Signs and symptoms include:

Difficulty with social interaction, speech and/or hearing, learning, problem solving, memory and attention span
Poor motor skills
Growth deficiencies
Central nervous system difficulties
Mental retardation
Malformations of the skeletal system
Malformations of major organ systems (specifically the brain and heart)
Poor mortality.

Babies with fetal alcohol syndrome also have characteristic facial features, such as flat cheeks, thin lips, small eyes and a short or upturned nose. Fortunately, these features fade as a child matures.

Fetal alcohol effects (FAE) is the other well-known problem than is under the heading of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. FAE is divided into two categories. They are Alcohol-Related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) and Alcohol-Related birth defects (ARBD).


ARND describes various behavioral and mental impairments due to prenatal exposure to alcohol. These include difficulty with attention, judgment and/or memory, poor school performance, learning disabilities and poor impulse control.


ARBD describes major malformations of major organ systems and the skeletal system that result from prenatal exposure to alcohol. Some of these are defects of the bones, kidneys, heart and/or auditory system.

What is the difference between fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects that are under the general heading of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Fetal alcohol syndrome is more serious, and the effects are more devastating than those of fetal alcohol effects. Fetal alcohol syndrome is caused by high doses of alcohol consumption during the time of pregnancy that is brought about by binge drinking and/or drinking alcohol on a regular basis. Fetal alcohol effects results from moderate drinking during all of pregnancy.

There is something extremely important that needs to be pointed out. While the effects of FAE are not as serious and devastating as those of FAS, they are nonetheless lifelong and irreversible.

Alcohol during pregnancy

The question may be asked, “Is any amount of alcohol safe to drink during pregnancy?” The answer is that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink at any stage of pregnancy. However, the more alcohol that is drank while pregnant, the greater danger there is to a developing baby.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is listed in the list of impairments of the Social Security Administration. However, this does not guarantee that you will be approved for Social Security Disability benefits if you have fetal alcohol syndrome. This will depend on how disabled you are as a result of this disorder and the medical records and evidence that you submit to the Social Security Administration. In order to get the Social Security disability benefits that are rightfully yours, you may need the help and advice of a disability attorney.
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