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Behavior and Cognitive Problems From Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) can cause a wide range of behavioral problems and thinking and reasoning (cognitive) problems that can affect a child's school performance. The child may have:

  • Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. These may also be symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Extreme mood changes, aggressive behavior, or temper tantrums.
  • Poor ability to think in abstract ways.
  • Difficulty with math skills.
  • Trouble learning. This can be related to intellectual disability. The problems can be mild to severe, depending on how bad the child's alcohol effects are. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is one of the most common known causes of intellectual disability.
  • Hearing problems.
  • Speech problems, if the child has jaw defects.

Children with FASD can have problems getting along with others, because they may not be able to:

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  • Consider the consequences of their actions.
  • Control their impulses.
  • Correctly interpret the actions of other people.

To be attributed to FASD, these problems cannot be related to the child's developmental level or caused by problems in the child's family or living situation.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Ernest L. Abel, PhD - Reproductive Toxicology
Last Revised March 3, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 03, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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