physical therapist

Physical Therapy Can Help Children With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Staff Report, FOCUS Therapy

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are conditions that result in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. The effects can include problems with learning and behavior, as well as issues with muscle tone. At FOCUS in Fort Myers, we know that early diagnosis and early intervention can make a huge difference in a child’s long-term prognosis. Physical therapy is one aspect of that plan.

There is no lab tests that definitively proves a child has fetal alcohol syndrome, and many of its symptoms can reflect conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Federal data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals there are as many as 1.5 infants with FASDs out of every 1,000 live births. One recent study found that 1 in 10 pregnant women reported using alcohol use (at least one drink) at some point during her pregnancy and 1 in 33 reported binge drinking (defined as four or more drinks at a time) in the previous 30 days.

Therapies must be tailored to each individual child because fetal alcohol syndrome can affect children differently. As noted by WebMD, symptoms of the condition may include:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Trouble with coordination, attention and memory
  • Hyperactivity
  • Struggle with sleep/ nursing (infants)
  • Problems with bones, kidney or heart

These symptoms can worsen if not treated. Although FASDs are not curable, they can be treated and their impact lessened. Those who are diagnosed and treated before the age of 6 show the best outcomes. 

child with color balls

Five Signs Your Child May Need Physical Therapy

Most parents at some point or another question whether their child is properly developing.

“Is that normal?” we ask. “Should I be worried or call someone?”

The need for physical therapy is sometimes obvious, but not always. At FOCUS, our Fort Myers physical therapists for children know a parent’s instincts are usually right. We do offer free screenings to help determine whether we should proceed with an evaluation and possibly services.