Fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading cause of intellectual disability in the United States. It occurs when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, exposing the fetus to alcohol in utero. The alcohol inhibits intrauterine growth and postnatal development. Microcephaly, craniofacial malformations, and limb and heart defects are common in affected infants. Short adult stature and development of a range of adult maladaptive behaviors have also been associated with fetal alcohol syndrome. Women with alcohol-related disorders have a 35 percent risk of having a child with defects.
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