Identifying fetal alcohol syndrome among youth in the criminal justice system

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1999 Oct;20(5):370-2. doi: 10.1097/00004703-199910000-00012.


A disproportionately large number of youth and adults with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and fetal alcohol effects (FAE) seem to be coming into conflict with the legal system. Learning and behavioral difficulties associated with FAS/FAE may make them more susceptible to criminal behavior. This study determined the prevalence of FAS/FAE among youth who were remanded for a forensic psychiatric/psychological assessment. All youth remanded to a forensic psychiatric inpatient assessment unit over a 1-year period were evaluated for FAS/FAE. Of the 287 youth, 67 (23.3%) had an alcohol-related diagnosis: 3 (1.0%) had a diagnosis of FAS and 64 (22.3%) had a diagnosis of FAE. Thus, this group is disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system, indicating the need for increased education and awareness among those in the criminal justice system involved with these youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / etiology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Crime*
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / complications
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnosis
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / etiology
  • Juvenile Delinquency*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index