CanFASD: FASD in Special Populations

urlEarlier this week, we posted about the rates of FASD in the general population. Women drink during pregnancy for many reasons, and some of the factors that might increase the risk of having a child with FASD include a woman’s nutrition, socioeconomic status, experience of depression, other substance use, and social connections. These factors can affect women from any age group, community, or cultural background. However, some groups are thought to experience higher rates of FASD, including children in care, individuals involved in the justice system, Indigenous communities, and new Canadians.

Child Welfare

  • There have been many studies about FASD with children in the welfare system, foster care, and orphanages around the world
  • In 2013, researchers reviewed studies from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Eastern Europe, Israel, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the US, and estimated a pooled FASD rate of 18%
  • In Canada, estimated rates of FASD among children in care have ranged from 3 to 11%. This is thought to be an underestimate, and the percentage of children in care with suspected FASD is significantly higher

 Justice System

  • Most of the studies in this area have been done in Canada and the US, though some research is emerging in Australia, Brazil, and Sweden
  • In Canada, estimated rates of FASD among youth who are involved in the justice system range from 11%-23%, and among adults, researchers have reported rates of 10%-18%

Indigenous Communities

  • One of the common myths about FASD is that it is an “Aboriginal issue” however, there is little high-quality evidence to support this claim
  • The limited evidence in Canada points to rates that range widely, from 0.7% to 27% depending on the specific group studied and how the research was conducted
  • It is very important to note that continued surveillance, stigmatization, and stereotyping of Indigenous populations may contribute to the misbelief that FASD is over-represented in these communities and further perpetuate the marginalization experienced by Indigenous children, women, families, and communities

 New Canadians

  • Very little research exists on the rates of FASD among new Canadians
  • More research is needed to understand whether or how risk factors experienced in this group may differ from native-born Canadian women and may change with acculturation

Click here to read the full issue paper devoted to this topic.

Visit the CanFASD website for more information and resources related to the rates of FASD in Canada and elsewhere.

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