Incidence and prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder by sex and age group in Alberta, Canada

J Popul Ther Clin Pharmacol. 2014;21(3):e395-404. Epub 2014 Oct 29.


Objectives: To estimate incidence and prevalence of FASD by sex and age in Alberta, Canada.

Methods: We included all patients recorded in the Alberta provincial health databases of inpatients, outpatients, and practitioner claims from 2003 to 2012. The number of people with FASD were calculated from available data on FAS (ICD-9 code 760.71; ICD-10 codes Q86.0 and P04.3) and estimated prevalence of FASD among individuals diagnosed with 21 FASD-related conditions (identified by a literature review) for which there are ICD codes, such as learning disability, mental retardation, and nervous system defects (Table 1). Fractions of FASD-related diagnoses that can be attributed to alcohol use during pregnancy were estimated by a systematic review. The incidence was measured as the number of new cases per 1000 births. The prevalence was measured as the number of cases per 1000 population in 2012.

Results: Annually, 739 to 1884 people were born with FASD in Alberta establishing an incidence of 14.2 to 43.8 per 1000 births, depending on the length of follow-up. There were about 46,000 people living with FASD in Alberta 2012, including 6,000 FAS cases and 40,000 FASD-related cases. The prevalence of FASD was 11.7 (range 8.2 to 15.1) per 1000 population. The incidence and prevalence varied greatly by sex and age group. Generally, male and younger outnumbered female and older.

Conclusion: This study suggests new incidence and prevalence of FASD, which are higher than what has been commonly used (1%), and its variations among sex and age groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnosis
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / psychology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult