Formerly known as MOFAS: Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Exciting News
from MOFAS

If you're looking for the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) you have come to the right place. We have some exciting news about our organization. We have a new name! MOFAS has officially been renamed Proof Alliance. Our mission remains the same: to prevent prenatal alcohol exposure and to improve the quality of life for people living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Why PR%F

We now have the proof that prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading cause of brain injury in children. We have the proof that FASD is 100% preventable and people living with an FASD can reach 100% of their potential.

Why Alliance?

We seek to build powerful alliances with people with an FASD, their families, legislators, experts in the field, new partners, and community members to bring awareness, research, and services to this field.

What's Next?

Proof Alliance is rebranding, expanding, and we're moving! We have a new logo, website, and prevention campaign to help change the norms around drinking during pregnancy. And in May 2019 we will be moving to a stand-alone building. Proof Alliance commits to the people of Minnesota and we will continue to develop transformative programs to help Minnesotans impacted by FASD.

Differences Between FASD & Autism

Differences Between FASD & Autism PDF

Differences between FASD and autism

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have a number of overlapping characteristics. They are both neurodevelopmental disabilities that can affect brain function, development, behavior, and social interaction.1, 2 Not only do children with FASD often display a number of autistic-like characteristics, but children with high levels of prenatal alcohol exposure are at an increased risk for autism. One study found that as many as 72% of children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome also met criteria for autism.3 However, there are a number of differences between the two spectrum disorders. Below we have outlined some of the common characteristics associated with both FASD and ASD. We have italicized the similar characteristics shared between the two disorders. Please note that both FASD and ASD are spectrum disorders, meaning that each case is unique and people on either spectrum may display some, all, or none of these characteristics.

1 in 20

1 in 59

As many as 1 in 20 children in the United States have an FASD.34As many as 1 in 59 children in the United States have autism.18

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)

  • Affects about 1 in 20 children4
  • One known cause: prenatal alcohol exposure5
  • Lifelong effects6
  • Outcomes can be improved by early intervention7
  • Sensitivity to light, touch, taste, smells, or sound8
  • Associated with microcephaly (a condition in which the baby’s head and brain are significantly smaller than expected)9
  • Often comfortable initiating conversations and joining social activities10
  • Difficulty with change in routines or transitioning from one task to another11
  • Deficits with speech and language skills12
  • Hyperactivity13
  • Impulsivity14
  • Short attention span15
  • May have difficulty in school16
  • Listed as a medical condition in the ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems)17
  • Not included in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

  • Affects about 1 in 59 children18
  • Has no single known cause19
  • Lifelong effects20
  • Outcomes can be improved by early intervention21
  • Sensitivity to light, touch, taste, smells, or sound22
  • Associated with macrocephaly (a condition in which the baby’s head is significantly larger than expected)23
  • Often avoid social situations24
  • Difficulty with change in routines or transitioning from one task to another25
  • Increased risk of epilepsy and seizures26
  • Deficits with speech and language skills27
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over (known as echolalia)28
  • Uses repetitive motions (such as flapping hands, rocking body, or spinning in circles)29
  • Hyperactivity30
  • Impulsivity31
  • Short attention span32
  • May have difficulty in school33
  • Listed as a medical condition in the ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems)34
  • Included in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)35


  1. Redei EE, Zoeller RT. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and autism spectrum disorders share common molecular vulnerabilities.
  2. Geib EF. Neurodevelopmental disorders: an overview of autism spectrum disorder and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
  3. Mukherjee RAS, Layton M, Yacoub E, Turk J. Autism and autistic traits in people exposed to heavy prenatal alcohol: Data from a clinical series of 21 individuals and nested case control study. Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities. 2011;5(1):42-49.
  4. May et al. Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in 4 US Communities, JAMA. 2018;319 (5):474-482.
  5. Burd L, Blair J, Dropps K. Prenatal alcohol exposure, blood alcohol concentrations and alcohol elimination rates for the mother, fetus and newborn. Journal of Perinatology. 2012;32(9):652-659.
  6. Noor S, Milligan ED. Lifelong Impacts of Moderate Prenatal Alcohol Exposure on Neuroimmune Function. Frontiers in Immunology. 2018.
  7. Peadon E, Rhys-Jones B, Bower C, Elliott EJ. Systematic Review of Interventions for Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. BMC Pediatrics. 2009;9(35).
  8. Masotti P, Longstaffe S, Gammon H, Isbister J, Maxwell B, Hanlon-Dearman A. Integrating care for individuals with FASD: results from a multi-stakeholder symposium. BMC Health Services Research. 2015;15(1):1-12.
  9. Treit S, Zhou D, Chudley AE, et al. Relationships between Head Circumference, Brain Volume and Cognition in Children with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(2):1-15.
  10. Stevens SA, Nash K, Koren G, Rovet J. Autism characteristics in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Child Neuropsychology. 2013;19(6):579-587.
  11. Millar JA, Thompson J, Schwab D, et al. Educating students with FASD: linking policy, research and practice. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs. 2017;17(1):3-17.
  12. Subramoney S, Eastman E, Adnams C, Stein DJ, Donald KA. The Early Developmental Outcomes of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: A Review. Frontiers in Neurology. 2018; 9(1108).
  13. Peadon E, Elliott EJ. Distinguishing between attention-deficit hyperactivity and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in children: clinical guidelines. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2010;6:509–515.
  14. Pei J, Leung WSW, Jampolsky F, Alsbury B. Experiences in the Canadian criminal justice system for individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Double jeopardy?. Canadian Journal of Criminology & Criminal Justice. 2016;58(1):56-86.
  15. Gross AC, Deling LA, Wozniak JR, Boys CJ. Objective measures of executive functioning are highly discrepant with parent-report in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Child Neuropsychology. 2015;21(4): 531-538.
  16. Glass L, Moore EM, Akshoomoff N, Jones KL, Riley EP, Mattson SN. Academic difficulties in children with prenatal alcohol exposure: Presence, profile, and neural correlates. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2017;41(5):1024-1034.
  17. American Academy of Pediatrics. Fetal alcohol syndrome.
  18. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data and statistics on autism spectrum disorder.
  19. Mayo Clinic. Autism spectrum disorder.
  20. Autism Society. Autism through the lifespan.
  21. National Autistic Society. Sensory differences.
  22. Christensen D, Bilder D, Zahorodny W, et al. Prevalence and Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among 4-Year-Old Children in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 2016;37:1-8.
  23. Klein S, Sharifi-Hannauer P, Martinez-Agosto JA. Macrocephaly as a clinical indicator of genetic subtypes in autism. Autism Res. 2013;6(1):51–56. doi:10.1002/aur.1266
  24. Aksoy F aksoy. fnd@gmail. co. Severity Levels of Autism, Social Interaction Behaviours and School Adjustment of Pre-School Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. International Journal of Early Childhood Special Education. 2018;10(1):1-10.
  25. Indiana Resource Center for Autism. Transition time: Helping individuals on the autism spectrm move successfully from one activity to another.
  26. Besag FMC. Epilepsy in patients with autism: Links, risks and treatment challenges. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 2018;14:1-10.
  27. Yau SH, Brock J, McArthur G. The relationship between spoken language and speech and nonspeech processing in children with autism: a magnetic event-related field study. Developmental Science. 2016;19(5):834-852.
  28. Grossi D, Marcone R, Cinquegrana T, Gallucci M. On the differential nature of induced and incidental echolalia in autism. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 2013;57(10):903-912.
  29. Wolff JJ, Botteron KN, Dager SR, et al. Longitudinal patterns of repetitive behavior in toddlers with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2014;55:945-953.
  30. Karalunas SL, Hawkey E, Gustafsson H, et al. Overlapping and Distinct Cognitive Impairments in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity and Autism Spectrum Disorder without Intellectual Disability. Journal of abnormal child psychology. 2018;46(8):1705-1716.
  31. Tureck K, Matson JL, Cervantes P, Turygin N. Autism severity as a predictor of inattention and impulsivity in toddlers. Developmental Neurorehabilitation. 2015;18(5):285-289.
  32. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorders.
  33. Hedges SH, Kirby AV, Sreckovic MA, et al. “Falling through the Cracks”: Challenges for High School Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The High School Journal. 2014;98:64-82.
  34. National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health (UK). Autism: Recognition, Referral and Diagnosis of Children and Young People on the Autism Spectrum. London: RCOG Press; 2011 Sep. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 128.) Appendix I, Diagnostic criteria. Available from:
  35. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD): Diagnostic criteria.

Last updated: June 2019

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