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What is Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

What is foetal alcohol spectrum disorder?

Recent studies show that more children than you might expect could be born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). 

Despite high numbers potentially being affected, many people have not heard of FASD. As a result, it is often incorrectly diagnosed, and children and their families can be denied appropriate support. Many would-be parents are unaware of the risks associated with drinking any alcohol during pregnancy.


What is FASD?

FASD stands for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. This is an umbrella term describing the range of conditions that can occur in an individual who was exposed to alcohol in the womb. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioural, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. FASD is characterised by: 

  • Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip (this ridge is called the philtrum)

  • Small head size.

  • Shorter-than-average height.

  • Low body weight.

  • Poor coordination.

  • Hyperactive behavior.

  • Difficulty with attention.

  • Poor memory.


The UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines state that: 

“If you are pregnant or think you could become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum. It is important not to worry if you had been drinking before finding out you were pregnant…stop drinking from that point and if concerned speak to midwife."

FASD Awareness Day

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day is observed around the world on September 9 in order to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Find out more on the NOFAS website:

Reducing Alcohol Exposed Pregnancies in Greater Manchester

In response to this serious and under-recognised issue, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has developed an ambitious new programme, backed by a significant £1.6 million investment. 

This aims to raise awareness of the harm of drinking alcohol while pregnant, prevent new cases of FASD locally, and ensure suitable support is available for those affected. 


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