Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – The Global Impact

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – The Global Impact

A recent article in Medical News Today noted that worldwide, an estimated 119,000 children are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) each year.

This data came to light as a result of a new study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) shows.

The study, published in The Lancet Global Health, provides the first-ever estimates of the proportion of women who drink during pregnancy, as well as estimates of FAS by country, World Health Organization (WHO) region and worldwide.

Globally, nearly 10 per cent of women drink alcohol during pregnancy, with wide variations by country and WHO region. In some countries, more than 45 per cent of women consume alcohol during pregnancy. In Canada, which has clinical guidelines advising abstinence during pregnancy, an estimated 10 per cent of pregnant women still drink, which is close to the estimated world average.

Nearly 15 per 10,000 people around the world are estimated to have FAS, the most severe form of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FAS is characterized by mental, behavioural and learning problems, as well as physical disabilities. In Canada, the estimate is 10.5 cases of FAS per 10,000 people.

The article noted that not every woman who drinks while pregnant will have a child with FAS. "We estimated that one in 67 mothers who drink during pregnancy will deliver a child with FAS," says lead author Dr. Svetlana Popova, Senior Scientist in CAMH's Institute for Mental Health Policy Research.

Source: Estimation of national, regional, and global prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and fetal alcohol syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Svetlana Popova, PhD, Shannon Lange, MPH, Charlotte Probst, MSc, Gerrit Gmel, MSc, Prof Jürgen Rehm, PhD, The Lancet Global Health, doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(17)30021-9, published 12 January 2017.

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