Document Type : Review Article


Neonatal Research Center, Imam Reza Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Background: About 40 thousand newborns are delivered annually with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). It induces serious CNS complications.
Methods: In a review of, the word “fetal alcohol syndrome” was searched in PubMed and Google Scholar and the retrieved articles were summarized.
Results: Many studies showed that alcohol can cause more defects in fetus than heroin, cocaine and marijuana. The possible defects caused by alcohol include physical, mental and behavioral retardation, learning deficits, growth restriction, and some social problems. FAS is more common than Down syndrome (1%). In Germany, 2200 newborns are delivered with FAS annually. According to the 2007 US National Survey on Drug Use and Health, pregnant women aged 15 to 44 reported alcohol use at a rate of 11.6%, with 3.7% reported binge drinking and 0.7% reported heavy drinking in the month before the survey. However, these rates were considerably higher in non-pregnant women with same age (53%, 24.1%, and 5.5% respectively). Alcohol use during pregnancy is a significant clinical concern. In South Africa, it is counted as 70-80 in 1000 live births. Alcoholic fathers may also induce some defects in their children.
Conclusion: FAS is nonhereditary cause of mental retardation and neurologic deficit in the Western world. The prevalence is high. It is preventive completely but has no treatment. In Iran we have no exact prevalence of FAS due to cultural problems. The day September 9th has been named for the FAS as the sign of 9 months of intrauterine life. Many countries such as Germany, USA, England, New Zealand, Scotland, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and Austria have paid lot of attention to prevention of FAS.