Fetal retinoid syndrome
is a characteristic pattern of physical birth defects
in a baby that has been exposed to retinoids during pregnancy. The best-known retinoid is isotretinoin
(Accutane), a drug used to treat severe cystic acne.
Babies exposed to retinoids during pregnancy may have a wide variety of symptoms. Some may have no symptoms at all, others may have only intellectual and learning problems, while others will have very severe symptoms.
Birth defects associated with retinoid exposure include:
Excess fluid around the brain (hydrocephalus
Abnormally small head size (microcephaly
Intellectual and learning disabilities
Ear and eye abnormalities
A split in the roof of the mouth (cleft palate
) and other facial differences
It is thought that 20-35% of fetuses exposed to retinoids during pregnancy will develop some of these birth defects.
Retinoids can cause these birth defects in the early weeks of pregnancy, even before a woman knows that she is pregnant.
Some of the birth defects associated with fetal
retinoid syndrome may be diagnosed by ultrasound
No treatment exists for fetal retinoid syndrome. Babies born with this condition are treated based on their symptoms. Currently, public health programs exist to help reduce the chance that a woman will use retinoids if she is considering getting pregnant.
Last updated: 1/31/2019