- Ancient scripture and paintings together with several medical reports on the effect of alcohol on the newborn over the past 300 years finally led to the description of the fetal alcohol syndrome in the 1970s by French and American research groups. Maternal alcohol abuse during pregnancy can result in the specific pattern of malformations and neurocognitive deficits characteristic of this syndrome. Diagnostic criteria and classifications have been developed and in the 1990s reports showed the long-term consequences for these children. In recent years several studies from different countries have shown that prenatal alcohol exposure will lead to life-long consequences on physical development, intellectual development, behavior, social development, occupation, independence, sexuality or sexual behavior and increased risk of suicidality. In this review of long-term observation studies we found that the prenatal exposure to alcohol have permanent and life-long damage, which impair both the social and occupational future of the person exposed with a need for life-long assistance in order for that person to function at an optimal level. Primary prevention and early intervention with general public health educational efforts seems to be the best way forward.