The Neurodevelopmental Consequences of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Elizabeth Welch-Carre, RN, MSN, NNP


Adv Neonatal Care. 2005;5(4):217-229. 

In This Article

Diagnostic Classification

The 5 diagnostic categories of PAE are summarized in Table 2 . In all but one, a history of maternal alcohol use needs to be documented. The first category is FAS with confirmed maternal alcohol use. In this category, the individual displays the typical facial characteristics—smooth philtrum, thin vermillion, and small palpebral fissures—along with growth deficiency and CNS abnormalities.[59] The second category is referred to as FAS without confirmed maternal alcohol use.[59] The third category defines PFAS. In this case, the individual has some of the facial features, growth deficiency, and CNS abnormalities, as well as a documented history of maternal alcohol use. The last 2 categories, ARND and ARBD, also require documented maternal alcohol use for diagnosis.[59]

In July 2004, the CDC published Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Guidelines for Referral and Diagnosis, a document that applied to only FAS. Based on these guidelines, 3 criteria must be met for the diagnosis of FAS ( Table 3 ). These include the 3 standard facial abnormalities associated with FAS, documentation of growth deficits, and documentation of CNS abnormalities.[60]


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