Short and Long Term Impacts and Implications of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders on Cognitive Development in Childhood


  • Selina Chow
  • Sophia Farcas
  • Urwa Ghazi
  • Emma Huang
  • Ya Jing Liu



FASD, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders, Cognitive Development


Fetal alcohol syndrome disorders (FASD) represent a collection of disorders with which a child is born, due to maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. Known as an invisible disability, its prevalence is difficult to capture, in part due to societal stigma and the lack of physical markers contributing to diagnostic difficulty. In Canada, FASD prevalence is estimated to be around 4%. The symptoms experienced by a child with FASD are typically classified into two categories: primary disabilities to describe functional deficits since birth as a result of the impact of alcohol on the brain; and secondary disabilities that occur later in life as a result of a child’s environment and primary disabilities. The impacts of FASD will affect each child differently in both the types and severity of disabilities. A major challenge faced by children and youth with FASD is receiving adequate mental health support, as well as evidence-informed practices involved in improving behavioural and cognitive functioning. COVID-19 has dramatically affected both children with FASD and their caregivers, likely exacerbating existing challenges. With increased rates of alcohol consumption and other mediating factors, experts are concerned about rising FASD rates during the pandemic.