Fetal retinoid syndrome


Disease Overview

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.[2247] 

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.[2247][2248]

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.[2248] Some of the birth defects associated with fetal retinoid syndrome may be diagnosed by ultrasound during pregnancy.[15241] 

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.[15240]   


  • Isotretinoin embryopathy
  • Accutane-exposed pregnancies
  • Isotretinoin (RoAccutane) embryopathy
  • Accutane fetal effects of
  • Acutane embryopathy
  • Isotretinoin fetal effects of
  • Isotretinoin teratogen syndrome

For more information, visit GARD.

National Organization for Rare Disorders