Disease at a Glance

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: • Growth delay • 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 • Heart defects. 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 during pregnancy. Currently, public health programs exist to help reduce the chance that a woman will use retinoids if she is considering getting pregnant.
Estimated Number of People with this Disease

This section is currently in development.

What Information Does GARD Have For This Disease?

Many rare diseases have limited information. Currently GARD is able to provide the following information for this disease:

*Data may be currently unavailable to GARD at this time.
When do symptoms of this disease begin?
This section is currently in development. 


This section is currently in development. We recommend speaking with a doctor to learn more about this disease. 


This section is currently in development. 

Next Steps

Talking with the Medical Team

Good communication between the patient, family, and medical team can lead to an accurate diagnosis. In addition, health care decisions can be made together which improves the patient’s well-being and quality of life.

Describing Symptoms

Describe details about the symptoms. Because there may be many different causes for a single symptom, it is best not to make a conclusion about the diagnosis. The detailed descriptions help the medical provider determine the correct diagnosis.

To help describe a symptom:

  • Use a smartphone or a notebook to record each symptom before the appointment
  • Describe each symptom by answering the following questions:
    • When did the symptom start?
    • How often does it happen?
    • Does anything make it better or worse?
  • Tell the medical team whether any symptoms affect daily activities

Preparing for the First Visit

Working with a medical team to find a diagnosis can be a long process that will require more than one appointment. Make better health decisions by being prepared for the first visit with each member of the medical team.

    Make informed decisions about health care: 
    • Prepare a list of questions and concerns before the appointment
    • List the most important questions first, not all questions may be answered in the first visit
    • Ask questions about symptoms, possible diagnoses, tests, and treatment options
    For future appointments:
    • Discuss what was not addressed at the last visit
    • Discuss changes in the quality of life for the patient, family, and caregivers
    • Discuss health goals and other issues in the patient’s and family’s life that may affect the health care decisions
    Take notes during the appointments to help remember what was discussed.

    Last Updated: Nov. 8, 2021