About FASD

What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) describes a range or disabilities caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. These disabilities include neurodevelopmental problems and cognitive, behavioral and physical disorders. The designaton "FASD" is meant to collect together various disabling conditions falling in the category of spectrum disorders within the Canadian Diagnostic Guidelines.i ii iii iv These include:

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  • Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS)
  • Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARND)
  • Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD)


Why should we be concerned about FASD?

Prevalence

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) has been identified as a major public health concern in Canada.v Too few studies have been done on the prevalence and incidence of FASD in Canada, because there is no consistent framework to establish FASD prevalence in Canada.viii According to Public Health Agency of Canada in a 2005 report, nine out of every thousand babies born in Canada have FASD,vi which means 3000 babies are born with FASD per year.vii Some studies in Canada suggest that FASD prevalence is higher in children in care and Aboriginal communities.

It is anticipated that our project will support the development of models and make recommendations for prevalence data gathering. ix x xi

Social and Economical Costs

The costs associated with FASD to society are high. It is estimated that it costs $1.5 million for every person with FASD,x and the cost of FASD to the Canadian government is millions of dollars every year. Although these estimates exist, work is required to create an accurate overall national profile of costs.xv The Institute of Health Economics has undertaken this evaluation from a Canadian perspective.

Aside from the financial costs, the social costs in relation to the lives of children and families living with FASD are great. They suffer psychological and emotional distress, particularly due to the disorder's neurological effects. Because of the cost and challenges related to caring for children with FASD, many of these children end up in the child-welfare system.xii xiii xiv While there are few studies which have gauged prevalence of FASD among children in care, one study reported prevalence rates that were 10 to 15 times higher than the general population, which has social and economic implications for caregiving.xv

References

i Badry, D. E., & Bradshaw, C. (2011). Assessment and diagnosis of FASD among adults: A national and systemic review. Public Health Agency of Canada. Cat. No.: HP10-14/2010E.
ii Health Canada. (2006). It's your health: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Ottawa, ON: Public Health Agency Canada. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/alt_formats/pacrb-dgapcr/pdf/iyh-vsv/diseas....
iii Public Health Agency of Canada. (2005). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): A Framework for Action. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/fasd-fw-etcaf-ca/framework-eng.php#b
iv Thanh, N.X., &  Jonsson, E. (2009). Cost of Fetal alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Alberta, Canada. Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 16(1), e80-e90.
v Government of British Columbia (2003). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: A strategic plan for British Columbia. Retrieved from www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/roc/
vi Thanh, N.X., &  Jonsson, E. (2009). Cost of Fetal alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Alberta, Canada. Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 16(1), e80-e90.
vii Public Health Agency of Canada. (2005). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): A Framework for Action. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/fasd-fw-etcaf-ca/framework-eng.php#b
viii Jonson, E., Dennett, L., & Littlejon, G. (Eds.). (2009). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Across the lifespan. Edmonton, AB:  Institute of Health Economics.
ix Badry, D. E., & Bradshaw, C. (2011). Assessment and diagnosis of FASD among adults: A national and systemic review. Public Health Agency of Canada. Cat. No.: HP10-14/2010E.
x Jonson, E., Dennett, L., & Littlejon, G. (Eds.). (2009). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Across the lifespan. Edmonton, AB:  Institute of Health Economics.
xi Wemigwans, J. (2008). FASD tool Kit for aboriginal communities. Toronto: ON: Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres (OFIFC).
xii Fuchs, D., Burnside, L., Marchenski, S. Mudry, A., & De Riviere, L. (2008). Economic impact of children in care with FASD phase 1: Cost of children in care with FASD in Manitoba. Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare & Public Health Agency of Canada Report. August (2008), 1-43.
xiii Health Canada. (2001). It takes a community: Framework for the First Nations and Inuit Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effects initiative. Ottawa, ON: Government of Canada.
xiv Wemigwans, J. (2008). FASD tool Kit for aboriginal communities. Toronto: ON: Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres (OFIFC).
xv Jonson, E., Dennett, L., & Littlejon, G. (Eds.). (2009). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Across the lifespan. Edmonton, AB:  Institute of Health Economics.
xvi Lave, J. &, Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
xvii Wasko, M. & Faraj, S. (2000). ""It is what one does": why people participate and help others in electronic communities of practice". Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 9 (2-3), 155–173