Alcohol is one of the most teratogenic substances and its consumption during pregnancy may result in a wide range of adverse effects for the developing foetus. Prenatal exposure to alcohol causes dysfunction of the central nervous system (CNS) due to structural and functional damage.
Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term for various clinical forms of this condition: full Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), partial FAS, Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD) and Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND).
FASD merely describes a series of clinical conditions that make it possible to diagnose the damage caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. There is no specific treatment for FASD, as each person shows a different set of FASD symptoms and/or a different level of impact.
Even so, no single pattern of cognitive profile that can be considered prototypical has been identified.
The most common alterations in children with FASD include impaired working memory, emotional management problems and theory-of-mind deficits (the ability to attribute thoughts and intentions to other individuals).
At a clinical level, these difficulties result in various degrees of signs and symptoms, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), academic failure, mental retardation, problems reading and writing, behavioural disorders, etc., although not all of them are always present, nor do they always manifest with the same intensity.
Treatment for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is mainly psychological (cognitive-behavioural), logopaedic, educational and, in exceptional circumstances, pharmacological (always symptomatic, as there is currently no specific treatment for the lesion underlying FASD). The family must always be offered psychological support. The comprehensive follow-up of patients is conducted by several types of visit: pre-adoption, post-adoption, diagnostic, follow-up, case studies, coordination with professionals and resources.