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What is the global prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder?

The JAMA Network Journals

An article published by JAMA Pediatrics estimates the global prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) among children and youth.

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause a wide range of adverse health effects. The effects of prenatal alcohol exposure can have lifelong implications so FASD is costly for society. Updated prevalence estimates are needed to prioritize, plan and deliver health care to high-needs populations, such as children and young people with FASD.

Svetlana Popova, Ph.D., of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada, and coauthors conducted a meta-analysis of 24 studies including 1,416 children and youth diagnosed with FASD.

The authors report:

  • The global prevalence of FASD among children and youth was estimated to be about 8 of 1,000 in the general population.

  • An estimated 1 of every 13 pregnant women who consumed alcohol while pregnant was estimated to deliver a child with FASD.

  • Based on select studies, the prevalence of FASD among special populations (e.g., Aboriginal populations, children in care, incarcerated and psychiatric care populations) ranges from 5 to 68 times higher than the global prevalence in the general population.

Study findings should be considered within the limitations of the data, including different diagnostic guidelines and case definitions in the studies.

"Globally, FASD is a prevalent alcohol-related developmental disability that is largely preventable. The findings highlight the need to establish a universal public health message about the potential harm of prenatal alcohol exposure and a routine screening protocol. Brief interventions should be provided, where appropriate," the article concludes.

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For more details and to read the full article, please visit the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.1919)

Editor's Note: Please see the articles for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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