Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in a Rocky Mountain Region City: Child Characteristics, Maternal Risk Traits, and Prevalence

Philip A. May, Julie M. Hasken, Rosemary Bozeman, Jo Viviane Jones, Mary Kay Burns, Joelene Goodover, Wendy O. Kalberg, David Buckley, Marita Brooks, Marian A. Ortega, Amy J. Elliott, Dixie M. Hedrick, Barbara G. Tabachnick, Omar Abdul-Rahman, Margaret P. Adam, Tamison Jewett, Luther K. Robinson, Melanie A. Manning, H. Eugene Hoyme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Objective: To document prevalence and traits of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and maternal risk factors in a Rocky Mountain city. Methods: Variations on active case ascertainment methods were used in 2 first-grade cohorts in all city schools. The consent rate was 59.2%. Children were assessed for physical growth, dysmorphology, and neurobehavior and their mothers interviewed. Results: Thirty-eight children were diagnosed with FASD and compared with 278 typically developing controls. Total dysmorphology scores summarized well the key physical indicators of FASD and defined specific diagnostic groups. On average, children with FASD performed significantly poorer than controls on intellectual, adaptive, learning, attention, and behavioral tasks. More mothers of children with FASD reported drinking prior to pregnancy and in the first and second trimesters, and had partners with drinking problems than mothers of controls; however, reports of comorbid alcohol use and 6 other drugs were similar for mothers of children with FASD and mothers of controls. Mothers of children with FASD were significantly younger at pregnancy, had lower average weight before pregnancy and less education, initiated prenatal clinic visits later, and reported more health problems (e.g., stomach ulcers and accidents). Children with FASD had significantly lower birth weight and more problems at birth, and were less likely to be living with biological mother and father. Controlling for other drug and tobacco use, a FASD diagnosis is 6.7 times (OR = 6.720, 95% CI = 1.6 to 28.0) more likely among children of women reporting prepregnancy drinking of 3 drinks per drinking day (DDD) and 7.6 times (OR = 7.590, 95% CI = 2.0 to 31.5) more likely at 5 DDD. Prevalence of FAS was 2.9–5.8 per 1,000 children, and total FASD was 34.9 to 82.5 per 1,000 children or 3.5 to 8.3% at this site. Conclusion: This site had the second highest prevalence of FASD of the 4 Collaboration on FASD Prevalence sites and clearly identifiable child and maternal risk traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-918
Number of pages19
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Alcohol Use and Abuse
  • Children With FASD
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
  • Maternal Risk
  • Prenatal Alcohol Use
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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