The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) released a fact sheet on February 2, 2016 stating that “up to 1 in 20 US school children may have FASDs.”
Based on the best available data, it can be estimated that 2-5% of children in the United States have an FASD. The CDC website states that “experts estimate that the full range of FASDs in the United States and some Western European countries might number as high as 2 to 5 per 100 school children (or 2% to 5% of the population).”
Comprehensive data on the number of individuals with an FASD in the general population of the Unites States, or by state, race or ethnicity, is currently not available.
Because alcohol-related disabilities are widely misdiagnosed and undiagnosed and because FASD is not included in most, if any, health data measures, passive surveillance or clinic-based methods that make no special effort to find FASD but instead rely on treatment or service data from health care facilities or birth records are known to substantially underestimate prevalence rates.
Active case surveillance methods that look for FASD among specific populations are far more accurate and produce significantly higher rates, although rates from these studies can not necessarily be generalized for the entire population. It is anticipated that continuing research might produce a validated weighted prevalence estimate for the U.S. as early as 2017.
Findings from the most recent prevalence study published in the November 2014 edition of Pediatrics examined FASD among first grade children in a representative Midwestern U.S. city with a population of 160,000. The study found 6 to 9 cases of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) per 1,000, 17 to 26 cases of combined FAS and Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome per 1,000, and for FASD, 24 to 48 cases per 1,000.*
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a component of the National Institutes of Health, the prevalence of FAS in the general population ranges from 0.2 to 7 cases per 1,000 children, and 2% to 5% for the entire continuum of FASD.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that the prevalence of FAS, ARND, and ARBD combined is at least 10 per 1,000, or 1 percent of all births.
*May PA, Baete A, Russo J, eta al. Prevalence and characteristics of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2014; 134(5): 855-866
For more information on this topic view this video featuring Dr. Philip May.
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