Risk factors for adverse life outcomes in fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2004 Aug;25(4):228-38. doi: 10.1097/00004703-200408000-00002.


Clinical descriptions of patients with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) suggest major problems with adaptive behavior. Five operationally defined adverse outcomes and 18 associated risk/protective factors were examined using a Life History Interview with knowledgeable informants of 415 patients with FAS or FAE (median age 14 years, range 6-51; median IQ 86, range 29-126). Eighty percent of these patients were not raised by their biological mothers. For adolescents and adults, the life span prevalence was 61% for Disrupted School Experiences, 60% for Trouble with the Law, 50% for Confinement (in detention, jail, prison, or a psychiatric or alcohol/drug inpatient setting), 49% for Inappropriate Sexual Behaviors on repeated occasions, and 35% for Alcohol/Drug Problems. The odds of escaping these adverse life outcomes are increased 2- to 4-fold by receiving the diagnosis of FAS or FAE at an earlier age and by being reared in good stable environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / complications*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Style*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications