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Tracking Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Mom with son and daughter

CDC is working with states to develop FAS tracking systems. It is important to know how many people have FAS in order to understand and identify vulnerable populations; target prevention and treatment resources; and evaluate the strengths and limitations of various prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies.

The current reported prevalence of FAS rates is likely a reflection of variation in study populations, case definition, case ascertainment sources, and surveillance methodologies among studies. Older CDC studies that relied on general birth defects or developmental disability surveillance systems not specifically designed for FAS estimated a prevalence of 0.5 – 2.0 cases of FAS per 1,000 live births. Using multiple-source, record-based methods, studies by a network of states, referred to as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Surveillance Network or FASSNet, found prevalence estimates of 0.3 – 1.5 cases of FAS per 1,000 live births in certain areas in the United States.

Current FAS Surveillance Sites

In 2009, CDC funded three programs to establish or enhance population-based FAS surveillance.

  • Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona
  • Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
  • Health Research, Inc./New York State Department of Health

Related Articles

Characteristics and behaviors of mothers who have a child with fetal alcohol syndrome
Neurotoxicology and Teratology; 2012; 34(1):90-95
Cannon MJ, Dominique Y, O’Leary LA, Sniezek JE, Floyd RL
[Read Summary]

Issues in Estimating the Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Examination of 2 Counties in New York State
Pediatrics; 2007; 119; 384-390
Druschel CM, Fox JD.
[Read summary]

Estimating Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS): Effectiveness of a Passive Birth Defects Registry System
Birth Defects Research (Part A); 2003; 67:604-608
Fox DJ, Druschel CM.
[Read summary]

A Comparison of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Surveillance Network and Birth Defects Surveillance Methodology in Determining Prevalence Rates of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Birth Defects Research (Part A); 2003; 67:819-821
Meaney FJ, Miller LA, FASSNet Team
[Read summary]

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome --- Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, and New York, 1995--1997
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; 2002; 51:433-435
[Read article]

A Multiple Source Methodology for the Surveillance of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome "“ the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Surveillance Network (FASSNet)
Teratology; 2002; 66:S41-S49
Hymbaugh K, Miller LA, Druschel CM, Podvin DW, Meaney J, Boyle CA, FASSNet Team
[Read summary]