Static Encephalopathy, as defined by Easter Seals: "Permanent or unchanging brain damage. The effects on development depend on the part of the brain involved and on the severity of the damage. Developmental problems may include any of a range of disabilities such as cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, mental retardation, autism, PDD, speech delays, attention deficits, hearing & vision impairments, oral motor problems, etc." Find out more about Static Encepahlopathy and related neurological disabilities at Easter Seals.

The leading cause of developmental disabilities characterized by Static Encephalopathy is consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.

Static Encephalopathy is present in persons diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). FAS and FAE are terms used to describe disabilities suffered by persons who were prenatally exposed to alcohol. Tens of thousands of children are born each year with FAS or FAE. Learn more about FAS and FAE at the FAS Community Resource Center.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), FAS affects approximately one in every 500 children born in Australia, Europe and North America, regions for which data are available. Visit the World Health Organization web site for more information on prevention of neurological disorders associated with Static Encephalopathy.

Each day, ten babies in the U.S. alone are born with severe enough disabilities to warrant a diagnosis of FAS in infancy, necessitating specialized care and direct supervision throughout their entire lifetime. As many as one hundred babies are born each day in the U.S. alone who, because of prenatal exposure to alcohol, sustain a considerable amount of damage to interfere with their ability to succeed in life, causing difficulties with school, behavior, social interactions, and eventually employment and independence. Many excellent resources are available for families and professionals dealing with FAS and FAE.

When a developing baby is exposed to alcohol in the womb, any and all areas of the developing brain are at risk of sustaining damage. Static Encephalopathy may involve the frontal lobe, which affects judgment and impulse control, and the corpus callosum, the membrane between the left brain and right brain which affects the ability to process information. There are many links on the internet with more information about FAS and FAE.

Some of the neurological characteristics of Static Encepahlopathy in persons who were prenatally exposed to alcohol include:

  • Easily distracted and disorganized
  • Poor judgment
  • Difficulty with abstract math and money management
  • Difficulty remembering things (short term memory)
  • Difficulty retrieving information from memory
  • Emotional immaturity
  • Inability to control impulses
For greater understanding about these neurological implications, visit FASCETS

Static Encephalopathy is not always apparent and can be misdiagnosed or go entirely unrecognized by parents, teachers, and medical professionals. Persons with alcohol induced Static Encepahopathy are often not identified and may not receive intervention and needed support services. Without identification and intervention, these persons are at high risk of secondary disabilities such as:

  • mental illness
  • suspension or expulsion from school
  • trouble with law enforcement
  • victimization or perpetration of sexual abuse
  • abuse of alcohol or other drugs
  • difficulty achieving independent living
  • difficulty maintaining employment
  • early or unwanted pregnancy or paternity
The primary factors in preventing the secondary disabilities associated with alcohol-induced Static Encephalopathy are:
  • Early identification
  • Early intervention and support services
  • Stable home environment

Learn more about these secondary disabilities from the Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit at the University of Washington.

What does Static Encephalopathy look like? The symptoms of alcohol-induced Static Encephalopahy are mostly invisible, but interested persons may take a look at the faces of affected children by viewing the FASSTARS Picture Album.

As devastating as Static Encephalopathy may be, as overwhelming as the obstacles are for persons suffering with alcohol-induced Static Encephalopathy, there is a great deal of information and support available to persons and families through the internet on FASLINK, an international support group, as well as a searchable database.

Professionals in the medical field who might diagnose Static Encephalopathy (alcohol exposed) would be wise to acquire the Diagnostic Guide for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Related Conditions: The 4-digit Diagnostic Code. (1997) by Drs. Susan Astley and Sterling Clarren. Ordering information can be found at the FAS Resources link.

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