Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, FAS, is a congenital disorder which is characterized by a variety of physical and behavioral traits that result from maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. In 1991, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that FAS is the leading known cause of mental retardation. At least five thousand infants are born each year with FAS, or approximately one out of every seven hundred and fifty live births (NIAAA, 2000). The syndrome is a widely under-diagnosed disorder and many experts believe that maybe up to one third of all children in special education classes have been affected by alcohol in some way during pregnancy. When women drink during their pregnancy, alcohol passes the placenta barrier freely, it then envelops the fetus and concentrates in the gray matter of the developing brain. The alcohol works as a dehydrating agent in the brain of the developing fetus. It sucks the water out of the developing cells which kills them or leaves them unable to function. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, FAS, is a congenital disorder which is characterized by a variety of physical and behavioral traits that result from maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. FAS is a series of mental and physical birth defects that can include mental retardation, growth deficiencies, central nervous system dysfunction, craniofacial abnormalities and behavioral maladjustments.
Maternal alcohol consumption can affect the development of both the body and the brain of the fetus, with consequences that may persist throughout life. Most children who have FAS are no longer living with their biological parents and are instead usually under some type of foster care. Foster care parents often describe FAS children as being very difficult to control and having many behavioral management problems. Gardner (2000) conducted a study to analyze the experiences of foster parents who take care of children who are diagnosed with FAS.