* Small head circumference
* Smaller eye openings under eye folds
* Flat midface
* Short, upturned nose
* Flat, elongated grooves above lip
* Small chin
* Thin upper lip
* Simply formed, low-set ears
* Possible smaller head circumference
* Drooping eyelids
* Elongated, indistinct grooves above lip
* Thin upper lip
* Smaller chin
* Low-set ears
FAS called common on death row
Denise Ferry, who as a mitigation consultant assists defense lawyers in death penalty cases, believes many murder defendants are victims of brain damage caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.
"It is very clear that mental retardation is at the basis of the problems of so many people on death row," Ferry said from her Fairfax, Calif., office. "Of those people, FAS and FAE is probably very likely a factor in many of the cases."
People who suffer fetal alcohol effects (FAE) generally were exposed to lower doses of alcohol, but suffer even more behavioral problems than people with FAS.
"I think this is going to turn out to be more of an issue in these cases than people can imagine," Ferry said.
Ferry, who helped keep a man with FAE off death row in 1989, is striving to educate defense lawyers around the country about FAS and FAE, which she believes many attorneys are unaware of. She wrote an article in a legal journal this year, advising attorneys on indicators of brain damage from alcohol exposure.
"There is a tremendous need for attorneys to be exposed to this issue," Ferry said. "They may not know what they're looking at."
One of the difficulties in spotting people with FAS is that as they grow into adulthood, facial features soften. Adults with FAS are much more difficult to identify than children with FAS.
"There are so many people in the criminal justice system batting about and getting increasingly into more trouble and unable to get out of trouble, and it's because their wires are crossed up," Ferry said.
"When we see a crime that is so inexplicable, and we don't understand what could possibly be going on with that person, it may be something like FAS."