Famous Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Adults
ِAlcohol consumption during pregnancy has been proven to cause severe developmental issues for the growing fetus. These issues are grouped under Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) and can vary in symptoms depending on how severely affected the child is.
Unfortunately, these issues weren’t scientifically proven until the early 1970s. That’s when alcohol and drug intake for pregnant women was linked to developmental difficulties. Before that, women were only encouraged to “drink moderately,” a piece of advice many ignored.
Because famous people are just people, there are a few of them who have suffered one or more symptoms related to FASDs. While some were public about their struggles, others left it to fan speculation whether or not they battle the condition.
Celebrities with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Celebrities are notoriously private people who don’t enjoy anyone making assumptions about their private lives. And let’s face it; there’s a bit of a stigma attached to the diagnosis of an FASD that they might see as too personal.
Plus, some conditions shared by these famous people can result from reasons other than FASD. That’s why the entries on this list are considered speculative unless stated otherwise.
The first and arguably most famous person who openly spoke about suffering from FASD is Jim Carrey. According to interviews with him, his mother was addicted to prescription painkillers, which affected his health as an infant.
It also caused feelings of abandonment to arise since she was physically present but not emotionally or mentally.
The ways his health was compromised include muscle spasms, facial contortion, as well as being double-jointed in some of his bones. You can guess that his comedic persona resulted from his pain and the issues he faced.
Daniel Radcliffe, famous for his role in the Harry Potter mega-franchise, didn’t reveal having a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. However, he openly spoke about suffering a mild form of dyspraxia, which can result from alcohol exposure in utero.
The condition makes it difficult to coordinate physical movement, but a Radcliffe representative described his version of it as being less debilitating. He mainly faced trouble using his hands to tie shoelaces and had bad handwriting growing up.
That said, others speculate his condition is a result of FASD because of his physical appearance. He has a short stature of 5’5” (1.65 m), and he displays the thin upper lip symptom found in FAS adults.
The US politician Bernie Sanders is thought to be another famous adult with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. However, the impressive political career that saw him become the longest-serving independent in US congressional history wouldn’t indicate his cognitive abilities are compromised.
The speculation comes from his recurring health troubles that include gout and heart problems. This isn’t surprising, though, since the US senator was born in 1941, making him 81 as of this article’s publication.
He also doesn’t show many features of the syndrome, since he’s 6’0”, which is above-average height. His face and skull also lack the defining features of FASD.
Morgan Redmon Fawcett is an inspiring Native American flutist from the Tlingit tribe who was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome at 15 years old. He then made it his life’s mission to educate others about the condition, both within Native American communities and outside of them.
He’s the Founder and Spokesperson of One Heart Creations, a non-profit aimed to increase awareness for FASD.
In 2011, during former President Barack Obama’s term, he completed a White House internship. He then went on to record and release two albums, which shows his dedication and hard work, alongside his natural talent.
DJ Peter Bowers
A Scottish DJ with an inspiring backstory, Peter Bowers struggled for years with learning difficulties due to his mother’s drinking during her pregnancy. He spent years in foster care and found it challenging to settle down and start a family.
But with the help of a charity called C-Change that supported him, he’s finding a path for himself and trying to break the cycle. He was featured on a BBC Scotland documentary called Seeking Someone Special, which navigated the complicated love lives of people with learning difficulties.
Gary Burghoff is the actor behind the beloved character Walter “Radar” O’Riley on the hit movie and TV series M*A*S*H*. He was born with Poland Syndrome, which resulted in a condition called brachydactyly, making three fingers on his left hand smaller than those on his right.
This condition can result from FASD, as alcohol is a teratogenic substance that affects normal growth.
It’s worth mentioning that drinking during pregnancy came up on the TV series Burghoff starred in. Set in the 1950s during the Korean War, the doctors supposedly didn’t understand the dangers of drinking for a pregnant woman. That’s why the head nurse had some alcohol to drink celebrating her pregnancy in the episode “What’s Up, Doc?”
Lastly, the Academy Award-winning actor, Joaquin Phoenix, is also living with a condition that can result from FASD. He was born with a micro cleft lip, which can be clearly seen as a scar running from under his nose to his upper lip.
His appearance was made fun of on a popular talk show. This prompted fans to educate the host, Wendy Williams, about the condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders?
People with FASD can display a variety of symptoms based on how mild or severe their condition is. This is affected by multiple factors, including the amount of alcohol exposure, genetic factors, and child care after birth.
The symptoms include:
- Low height and weight
- Issues with sleep and suckling as a baby
- Vision or hearing impairment
- Small head
- Slight upper lip
- Smooth philtrum (the ridge between the nose and lips)
- Wide-set eyes
- Learning disabilities
- Poor impulse control
- Speech delays
- Low IQ
- Difficulty with attention and hyperactivity
- Trouble getting along with peers
What Are the Different Diagnoses of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders?
Depending on the amount of alcohol the fetus was exposed to in the uterus, as well as the symptoms displayed by the child, the FASD diagnosis may vary. Here are the different diagnoses under Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders:
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
FAS is the most involved fetal alcohol spectrum disorder since it displays all the associated symptoms. These include central nervous system (CNS) malformation that causes a small head, small, wide-set eyes, and a smooth ridge between the nose and lips (philtrum).
The syndrome also has mental and behavioral components. Sufferers display a range of difficulties in school and have trouble getting along with their peers. They might also have memory, coordination, and communication problems.
Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND)
ARND sufferers display the intellectual disability side of the spectrum. They usually have trouble concentrating, issues with math, memory, and abstract thinking, as well as poor impulse control.
Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD)
ARBD is the physical side of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Sufferers might have the hallmark physical features (small head & features, short stature, no philtrum). However, they can also have several internal problems.
Kidney, heart, and bone malformation could be signs of ARBD. There could also be loss of eyesight or hearing or a mix of these symptoms.
Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE)
In 2013, ND-PAE was first included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 (DSM 5) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The child can have trouble with:
- Thinking and memory, where they may experience excessive forgetfulness and difficulty revising material they’ve already learned.
- Behavior problems. These include severe tantrums, irritability, and difficulty starting a new task after finishing the first.
- Day-to-day living. This includes problems with personal hygiene, bathing, dressing for the weather, and communicating with other people.
An ND-PAE diagnosis usually happens if the mother consumes more than 13 alcoholic drinks during any 30 days of pregnancy. This can be rounded down to 2 or more alcoholic drinks per setting.
Keep in mind that doctors don’t need confirmation from the mother to diagnose FASD. Although, it’s definitely more difficult since it shares symptoms with other conditions like ADHD and cerebral palsy.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) have a devastating impact on the health and well-being of the unborn fetus. That said, there are many famous Fetal Alcohol Syndrome adults out there who braved the odds and accomplished so much with what cards they were dealt.
Although many celebrities don’t acknowledge this piece of information about themselves due to the social stigma that comes with it, there are tell-tale signs. A short stature, distinctive features, as well as intellectual and physical difficulties, could be signs of FASD.
The diagnoses vary, FAS includes both physical and mental aspects, ARND displays intellectual difficulties with reasoning and abstract thinking, and ARBD includes physical birth defects.
As for ND-PAE, it relates to the behavioral aspect of FASD. Issues like trouble getting along with peers, poor impulse control, and mood problems that lead to tantrums and irritability can be hard to handle.