Treatment for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Protective Factors Can Lessen Secondary Conditions

There is no cure for the disabilities of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). However, you can implement protective factors to reduce or prevent the development of secondary conditions associated with FAS.

Can Medication Reverse Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

There is no medication or treatment that will reverse the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome and the other disorders associated with alcohol-related birth defects.

There is no treatment to reverse or change the physical features or brain damage associated with maternal alcohol use during the pregnancy.

But you can prevent many secondary conditions often developed by individuals with FAS by implementing "protective factors," as described by Ontario Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Assistance and Training.

Protective factors found to benefit children who have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders include:

  • a diagnosis before the child turns 6 years old
  • special education and social services intervention to develop an aggressive and early intervention plan
  • a stable and nurturing environment for at least 72% of the child's life, especially between the ages of 8 and 12 years old
  • the absence of violence in the child's life

Early Diagnosis for More Positive Outcomes

Children who receive an early diagnosis have more positive outcomes than kids who don't. The earlier you can place an FAS child in appropriate educational classes and provide essential social services, the more improved the prognosis.

Early diagnosis also helps family members and teachers understand the reactions and behavior of the FAS child, which can differ widely from other children in the same situations.

Special Education and Social Services

Research shows that fetal alcohol syndrome children who receive special education designed for their specific needs and learning ability are more likely to achieve their developmental and educational potential.

Because FAS children can exhibit a wide range of severity of symptoms, individualized educational programs created by competent professionals are important.

It is also helpful if FAS children and their family receive social services, such as respite care, stress management training or behavioral management training. Because they have more positive outcomes compared with families who do not receive those kinds of services.

Nurturing and Stable Environment

All children benefit from a loving, nurturing and stable home life. But children with fetal alcohol syndrome can be more sensitive to disruptions, transient lifestyles, and harmful relationships. To prevent the secondary conditions associated with FAS, children who have fetal alcohol syndrome need support from healthy family members and the community.

Absence of Violence

Violence in the lives of children with fetal alcohol syndrome can have significant influence on their likelihood of developing behavior, legal and living problems later in life.

This could be violence in the home, whether it's directed at the child or not, or at school from bullying or other situations. Studies show that FAS children who live in stable and non-abusive homes are much less likely to develop secondary conditions.

The same is true for FAS children involved in youth violence. Children with exposure to violence, in any form, such as getting into fights at school or around the neighborhood, are much more likely to have additional problems in their lives.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "Protective Factors for Children with FAS" (2006)

Ontario Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Assistance and Training: Fetal Alcohol Exposure - Tie to Know, Time to Act (2003)

University of Virginia Health System. "High-Risk Newborn." (2008)

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