Information about "family matters" is vital to developing targeted interventions, reducing placement disruption, and enhancing outcome in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). The quality of the caregiving environment and family function are associated with long-term outcome in natural history study of individuals with FASD. This article integrates multiple information sources to better understand the role of family factors in the outcome of individuals with FASD, and how the family is affected by raising a child with this lifelong condition. A brief description of the useful informal literature is brought together with a review of the surprisingly limited body of systematic research findings on FASD and caregiver/family function, and new data describing children with FASD and characteristics of their caregivers. Directions for future data-gathering and intervention development emerge from combining what is already known with an exploration of what can be learned from a highly targeted review of family-related data in the wide-ranging, general literature on developmental disabilities, and use of a proposed conceptual framework that joins a developmental systems perspective with a family systems approach.
(c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.