The 3 Diagnoses under the FASD Umbrella    

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term used to describe the spectrum of adverse outcomes caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.

In accordance with the FASD 4-Digit Code, three diagnoses fall under the umbrella of FASD: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Static Encephalopathy/Alcohol Exposed (SE/AE) and Neurodevelopmental Disorder/Alcohol Exposed (ND/AE). Each year, as many as 40,000 babies are born with FASD, at a cost of over $4 billion dollars nationwide.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a birth defect syndrome caused by maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. FAS is characterized by:

  • growth deficiency (height or weight < 10th percentile).
  • a unique cluster of minor facial anomalies (small eyes, smooth philtrum, thin upper lip).
  • severe brain abnormalites (structural, neurological, and/or functional abnormalities).
  • prenatal alcohol exposure.

The prevalence of FAS is estimated to be 1 to 3 per 1,000 live births. This is roughly equivalent to the prevalence of down syndrome. FAS is the leading known cause of intellectual disabilities and is entirely preventable.

Static encephalopathy/Alcohol Exposed (SE/AE). The term "encephalopathy" refers to "any significant abnormal condition of the structure or function of brain tissues" (Anderson, 2002). The term "static" means that the abnormality in the brain is unchanging; neither progressing nor regressing. This diagnostic classification is for patients who present with:

  • severe brain abnormalities (structural, neurological, and/or severe functional abnormalities).
  • prenatal alcohol exposure.

Neurobehavioral Disorder/Alcohol Exposed (ND/AE) is a diagnostic outcome classification for patients who present with:

  • moderate brain dysfunction.
  • prenatal alcohol exposure.

The severity of brain dysfunction increases as one advances from ND/AE to SE/AE to FAS/PFAS.


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