Developmental Disabilities

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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Developmental disabilities are a diverse group of severe chronic conditions that are due to mental and/or physical impairments. People with developmental disabilities have problems with major life activities such as language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living. Developmental disabilities begin anytime during development up to 22 years of age and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her unborn baby. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant and there also does not appear to be a safe time to drink during pregnancy either. Therefore, it is recommended that women abstain from drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can cause a range of disorders, known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). One of the most severe effects of drinking during pregnancy is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is one of the leading known preventable causes of mental retardation and birth defects. If a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, her baby can be born with FAS, a lifelong condition that causes physical and mental disabilities.

Children with FASDs might have the following characteristics or exhibit the following behaviors:

  1. Small size for gestational age or small stature in relation to peers
  2. Facial abnormalities such as small eye openings
  3. Poor coordination
  4. Hyperactive behavior
  5. Learning disabilities
  6. Developmental disabilities (e.g., speech and language delays)
  7. Mental retardation or low IQ
  8. Problems with daily living
  9. Poor reasoning and judgment skills
  10. Sleep and sucking disturbances in infancy


From 1989 - 1996 Dr. Turben was Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at John Carroll University. In addition to teaching Teach Education and Early Childhood-Special Education courses, she supervised masters and post-baccalaureate programs that lead to the PreK, Kindergarten, and Early Education of Handicapped Children validations. She has done research concerning the effectiveness of home visits, the importance of neighborhoods as social structures and parent involvement in schools.
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