Prevalence and characteristics of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Philip A. May, Amy Baete, Jaymi Russo, Amy J. Elliott, Jason Blankenship, Wendy O. Kalberg, David Buckley, Marita Brooks, Julie Hasken, Omar Abdul-Rahman, Margaret P. Adam, Luther K. Robinson, Melanie Manning, H. Eugene Hoyme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

439 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence and characteristics of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) among first grade students (6- to 7-year-olds) in a representative Midwestern US community. METHODS: From a consented sample of 70.5% of all first graders enrolled in public and private schools, an oversample of small children (≤25th percentile on height, weight, and head circumference) and randomly selected control candidates were examined for physical growth, development, dysmorphology, cognition, and behavior. The children's mothers were interviewed for maternal risk. RESULTS: Total dysmorphology scores differentiate significantly fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and partial FAS (PFAS) from one another and from unexposed controls. Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) is not as clearly differentiated from controls. Children who had FASD performed, on average, signi ficantly worse on 7 cognitive and behavioral tests and measures. The most predictive maternal risk variables in this community are late recognition of pregnancy, quantity of alcoholic drinks consumed 3 months before pregnancy, and quantity of drinking reported for the index child's father. From the fi nal multidisciplinary case fi ndings, 3 techniques were used to estimate prevalence. FAS in this community likely ranges from 6 to 9 per 1000 children (midpoint, 7.5), PFAS from 11 to 17 per 1000 children (midpoint, 14), and the total rate of FASD is estimated at 24 to 48 per 1000 children, or 2.4% to 4.8% (midpoint, 3.6%). CONCLUSIONS: Children who have FASD are more prevalent among first graders in this Midwestern city than predicted by previous, popular estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-866
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol use and abuse
  • Children with FASD
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • Prenatal alcohol use
  • Prevalence
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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