What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)? 

​Source: CAMH. (2020). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Retrieved April 23, 2020, from External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorde

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is also known by the acronym FASD. This term is an umbrella term describing the three diagnostic categories caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. These categories include;

  1.  Fetal Alcohol Syndrome which the most severe and visible form of FASD

  2. Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is diagnosed when an individual has most of the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome but not all of them.

  3. Alcohol related Neurodevelopmental Disorders is the most preventable form of diagnosed FASD with the individual having damage to their central nervous system as well as confirmed exposure to alcohol during gestation.

​It is important to remember that FASD is completely preventable. FASD occurs when a fetus is exposed to alcohol during its development and the impacts of this can vary greatly depending on the amount of exposure and when the exposure occurs during the developmental process. FASD does not have any specific population it impacts, it can impact anyone no matter their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or age.

 FASD is recognized as one of the leading, preventable known causes of developmental disorders in the Western world.


What is Organic Brain Damage?  

The damage that is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure causes ORGANIC BRAIN DAMAGE THAT CAN NOT BE CURED OR REVERSES.

The impacts this disorder can have on a persons life is diverse and can be devastating. They can have challenges with recognizing social cues, inability to understand another persons perspective, difficulty with cause and effect relationships, challenges with abstract concepts, and a lack of impulse and poor judgement.

This is not something someone chooses for their life, they are born with this disorder and have many challenges because of it. It is important that we recognize the challenges affected individuals have and provide them the support they need to thrive in life.


This is also something that can be prevented through providing education and support to community workers and mothers.


FASD is sometimes referred to as an "INVISIBLE DISORDER"

because there is often no outside indication

that someone is impacted by this disorder



 Our system of justice is founded on the premise that defendants understand the relationship between actions and outcomes,

between intentions and consequences, that people who make choices are responsible for the fallout. 

The cognitive impairments of persons with FASD call these fundamental premises into question.

- Green, M. 2006