Causes of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Learn about the causes of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). 

What causes FASD?

FASD is caused when a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is not hereditary.

Alcohol is known to harm the normal development of cells. If you're pregnant and drink alcohol, it passes into your developing fetus. This can cause harm to the baby's brain and body.

The impact of alcohol on a developing fetus is influenced by the:

  • amount (how much you drink at once)
  • frequency (how often alcohol was consumed)
  • timing (when alcohol was consumed in pregnancy)

It can also be affected by other factors such as:

  • stress  
  • the mother's age
  • nutrition of the mother
  • smoking or other drug use
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