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Fetal Alcohol Effects: Behavior and Learning Problems

Topic Overview

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:

  • 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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Ernest L. Abel, PhD - Reproductive Toxicology
Last Revised February 20, 2013

Last Revised: February 20, 2013

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