Carpita, B.; Migli, L.; Chiarantini, I.; Battaglini, S.; Montalbano, C.; Carmassi, C.; Cremone, I.M.; Dell’Osso, L. Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: A Literature Review. Brain Sci. 2022, 12, 792. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci12060792
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are a group of conditions associated with the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure and characterized by somatic and neuropsychological alterations. On the other hand, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by a multifaceted neurobehavioral syndrome. Since alcohol can affect every stage of brain development, some authors hypothesized that in utero alcohol exposure might be linked to an increased risk of ASD in subjects with genetic vulnerability.
The present review aimed to summarize the available literature on the possible association between FASD and ASD, also focusing on the reported clinical overlaps and on the possible shared pathogenic mechanisms. Studies in this field have stressed similarities and differences between the two conditions, leading to controversial results. The available literature also highlighted that both the disorders are often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed, stressing the need to broaden the perspective, paying specific attention to milder presentations and sub-syndromic traits.