Background: Although fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) affect communities worldwide, little is known about its prevalence. The objective of this study was to provide an overview of the global FASD prevalence.
Methods: We performed a search in multiple electronic bibliographic databases up to August 2015, supplemented with the ascendancy and descendancy approach. Studies were considered when published in English, included human participants, and reported empirical data on prevalence or incidence estimates of FASD. Raw prevalence estimates were transformed using the Freeman-Tukey double arcsine transformation so that the data followed an approximately normal distribution. Once the pooled prevalence estimates, 95% confidence intervals and prediction intervals were calculated based on multiple meta-analyses with transformed proportions using random effects models, these estimates were transformed back to regular prevalence rates. Heterogeneity was tested using Cochran's Q and described using the I(2) statistic.
Results: Among studies that estimated prevalence in general population samples, considerable differences in prevalence rates between countries were found and therefore separate meta-analyses for country were conducted. Particularly high-prevalence rates were observed in South Africa for fetal alcohol syndrome (55.42 per 1,000), for alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (20.25 per 1,000), and FASD (113.22 per 1,000), For partial fetal alcohol syndrome high rates were found in Croatia (43.01 per 1,000), Italy (36.89 per 1,000), and South Africa (28.29 per 1,000). In the case of alcohol-related birth defects, a prevalence of 10.82 per 1,000 was found in Australia. However, studies into FASD exhibited substantial heterogeneity, which could only partly be explained by moderators, most notably geography and descent, in meta-regressions. In addition, the moderators were confounded, making conclusions as to each moderator's relevance tentative at best.
Keywords: Epidemiology; Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder(s); Meta-Analysis; Prevalence; Systematic Literature Review.
Copyright © 2016 by the Research Society on Alcoholism.