Most kids with FASD look normal, making it an invisible problem. But depending on when the mother drank, some kids with FASD have telltale facial characteristics.
- Small head, low birth weight and delayed growth. Kids with FASD tend to be small for their age.
- Thin upper lip with no philtrum, the groove between the nose and upper lip
- Short palpebral fissures, which are the corners of the eye opening. Kids with FASD have small, round eyes.
- A flat mid face, an upturned nose with a flat nasal bridge.
The spectrum of FASD
FAS: People with FAS have a distinct pattern of facial abnormalities -- the classic round eyes, thin upper lip and no groove between the nose and lip -- along with growth deficiencies and brain damage. They tend to have learning and behavioural problems and lower IQs. Confirmation that the mother drank during pregnancy isn't necessary because the physical defects tell the story.
PFAS: Partial FAS, when some but not all of the facial and physical abnormalities are present and doctors have confirmation that a mother drank while pregnant. That's the tricky part, getting the mother or someone in the family to detail how much alcohol was consumed and when. Without that bit of information, it's difficult for doctors to offer a definitive diagnosis.
ARND: The biggest, but most invisible version of FASD. People with alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder don't have the facial features but they suffer many of the same serious brain and behavioural troubles that make life a struggle. Their IQs can be normal. Confirmation that the mother drank is required.
FAE: Fetal Alcohol Effects. The phrase is not in vogue anymore. It's been replaced by FASD.