In 2004 the term Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) became the umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with lifelong implications. The term FASD is not intended for use as a clinical diagnosis. It refers to conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), fetal alcohol effects (FAE), alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD). The most well known and serious condition is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). It was identified in 1973 by Drs. Kenneth Lyons Jones and David Smith and occurs in 1 to 3 per 1000 live births. In New Jersey, there may be as many as 300 babies born each year with FAS and 3-5 times that number with alcohol related defects and neurodevelopmental disorders. These conditions are lifelong and are caused by consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. FASD are considered to be the leading known preventable cause of mental retardation and other birth defects.
The New Jersey Department of Health has been committed to addressing perinatal addiction since 1980 and provides support to a system of FASD risk reduction and perinatal addiction services. These risk reduction services include referral for treatment and education. For additional information about these services or for more information on the effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, please contact the Reproductive and Perinatal Health Services at (609) 292-5616.