The Connection Between Autism & Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

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Autism is caused by a variety of factors, including genetics and prenatal trauma. Unfortunately, many children with autism are also born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which can have severe impacts in later life. The prevalence of FAS has increased dramatically over the past few decades as well-meaning women drink during pregnancy for social reasons or to relax before giving birth.

The “root cause of autism” is a theory that states that the main cause for autism spectrum disorders is due to fetal alcohol syndrome.


Alcohol is harmful to newborns who are still growing. It may cause birth abnormalities and neurobehavioral problems, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, when eaten by a woman during pregnancy (FAS).

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a prevalent occurrence. In the United States and Western Europe, around one out of every 100 newborns is born with FAS.

Many of the symptoms and characteristics of autism and fetal alcohol syndrome are similar. They may also happen to the same individual at the same time.

Because the two conditions share some similarities, children with FAS are sometimes mistaken as having autism.

Is Autism Caused by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Although both genetics and environmental factors are thought to have a role in autism, there is no known definitive cause. Fetal alcohol syndrome affects only newborns whose moms drank when they were pregnant. While there is considerable overlap between FAS and autism, and the two illnesses may develop at the same time, they are distinct syndromes.

Alcohol is harmful to a growing fetus. This exposure may cause intellectual deficiencies, behavioral disorders, learning challenges, motor skill issues, and hyperactivity in a growing brain.

While alcohol may induce neurodevelopmental disorders like FAS, there is no evidence that it can cause autism. However, FAS may cause autism-like symptoms in babies and children.

The hunt for the direct causes of autism is still underway. It’s possible that prenatal exposure to chemicals had a role in the disorder’s development. If alcohol is given to newborns who are genetically susceptible to autism while they are still in the womb, it may increase their chance of developing autism.

At this time, there is no concrete evidence that alcohol or fetal alcohol syndrome may cause autism in people who are not genetically susceptible to the illness (ASD). Alcohol use during pregnancy may be a risk factor if specific genetic vulnerabilities are present.

Overlap Between Autism & Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Many of the characteristics of autism and fetal alcohol syndrome are similar. Both are neurological illnesses that cause problems in socialization, learning, communication, and motor abilities.

Because persons with fetal alcohol syndrome display autistic features roughly three-quarters of the time, both diseases may be comorbid. FAS is sometimes confused with autism spectrum condition.

The following are some of the autism and fetal alcohol syndrome features that are similar:

  • Social difficulties and a lack of social communication abilities.

  • Making and retaining friends is difficult.

  • Deficits in attention.

  • Development is taking longer. 

  • Impulsivity, as well as a lack of knowledge of the repercussions.

  • Eye contact is avoided.

  • Transitions are difficult.

  • Touch sensitivity.

  • Mood swings and/or temper tantrums are the result of problems managing emotions.

  • Being very knowledgeable in a single subject or topic.

There are differences between fetal alcohol syndrome and autism. Children with FAS, for example, are frequently more engaged in their classmates and have a stronger urge to socialize. Autism-affected children prefer to play alone, with little to no interest in their friends.

Restrictive and repetitive interests and behaviors are common among children with autism. They have a hard time comprehending and connecting to other people’s feelings. Those who have fetal alcohol syndrome say they don’t feel like they fit in with the rest of society.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Its Consequences

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a spectrum condition, similar to autism. The intensity and level of handicap might vary dramatically from one individual to the next.

Aside from the autism-like characteristics previously mentioned, some of the difficulties associated with FAS include:

  • Birth weight is low.

  • Smaller in height than the typical person.

  • Faces with distorted features.

  • Coordination issues.

  • Deficits in attention.

  • Hyperactivity.

  • There are concerns with memory.

  • Learning impairments are a kind of learning disability.

  • Low IQ.

  • Sleep disruptions.

  • As a child, I had trouble sucking.

  • Heart, bone, and renal issues are all common.

  • Delays in language and speaking.

  • Hearing and visual issues are common.

  • Later in life, you may experience depression.

Treatment Options for FAS & Autism

The following are some of the treatments for fetal alcohol syndrome and autism:

Specific sorts of treatment may often be used to address various parts of fetal alcohol syndrome and autism.

Speech and language therapy assist to enhance both verbal and nonverbal communication by focusing on language difficulties. Occupational therapy helps children develop fine and gross motor abilities as well as social and self-care skills. In order to assist children with FAS academically, educational counseling is often required to address learning difficulties and cognitive delays.

The front-line treatment for autism is applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. This therapeutic method may aid in the constructive shaping of behaviour. It is adjustable and versatile to meet the requirements and conditions of each kid. ABA aids in the development and reinforcement of desired behaviors while reducing undesired ones.

By giving education, information on what to anticipate, and resources on how to effectively assist a family member with FAS and/or ASD, family treatments may help whole families learn how to manage fetal alcohol syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. Yoga, creative arts treatments, relaxation therapy, and meditation are examples of alternative and holistic approaches that may assist to reduce stress and promote self-regulation.

Each person’s treatment approach will be different depending on their individual objectives and the degree of their disease. A medical and mental health intervention team, which may include the child’s pediatrician, a pediatric psychologist and/or psychiatrist, a speech and language pathologist, occupational therapists, teachers, caregivers, and behavior therapists, creates a comprehensive treatment plan with family input.

Early Intervention for Autism & FAS

The only way to avoid fetal alcohol syndrome is for the mother to refrain from drinking while she is pregnant.

When a kid has autism, early intervention services and treatment choices guarantee that they have the highest chance of a successful therapy. Early autism treatments may assist to reduce symptoms, improve everyday functioning, and improve overall quality of life.

FAS and autism are both chronic illnesses with no treatment. The sooner a kid gets therapy, the better his or her chances of living a happy, meaningful, and healthy life.

As soon as you have any concerns, talk to your child’s doctor about having him or her examined for FAS and/or autism. Early intervention may make a significant impact in your child’s life.


The “is autism genetic or hereditary” is a question that has been asked many times. The answer to this question is no, but it may be caused by fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is a disorder that occurs in children who have been exposed to alcohol during pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does autism come from the mother or father?

A: It is thought to be hereditary and can come from either parent.

What is autism linked to?

A: Autism is a general term for a developmental disorder of the brain that affects social interaction. Its often characterized by repetitive behaviors and difficulty communicating with others.

What are 3 causes of autism?

A: There are many causes of autism, which can vary depending on the individual. Some people with autism may have a genetic predisposition to it and others might not be able to avoid an environmental factor such as exposure to toxins or vaccinations that their body is unable to handle properly.

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