Genetic Influences on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Sambo D, Goldman D. Genetic Influences on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Genes. 2023; 14(1):195.


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) encompasses the range of deleterious outcomes of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) in the affected offspring, including developmental delay, intellectual disability, attention deficits, and conduct disorders. Several factors contribute to the risk for and severity of FASD, including the timing, dose, and duration of PAE and maternal factors such as age and nutrition. Although poorly understood, genetic factors also contribute to the expression of FASD, with studies in both humans and animal models revealing genetic influences on susceptibility.

In this article, we review the literature related to the genetics of FASD in humans, including twin studies, candidate gene studies in different populations, and genetic testing identifying copy number variants. Overall, these studies suggest different genetic factors, both in the mother and in the offspring, influence the phenotypic outcomes of PAE. While further work is needed, understanding how genetic factors influence FASD will provide insight into the mechanisms contributing to alcohol teratogenicity and FASD risk and ultimately may lead to means for early detection and intervention.

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