Data and Statistics on FASDs

What to know

Up to 1 in 20 U.S. school-aged children may have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). People with FASDs can experience lifelong issues.

A father and young child talking to a healthcare professional and looking at a tablet screen


We do not know exactly how many people have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Several different approaches have been used to estimate how many persons are living with FASDs in the population. FASDs include several diagnoses related to exposure of the baby to alcohol during pregnancy. More specifically, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most involved diagnosis, used when several physical and developmental disabilities are present.


Using medical and other records, CDC studies have identified about 1 infant with FAS for every 1,000 live births in certain areas of the United States.1 The most recent CDC study analyzed medical and other records and found FAS in 0.3 out of 1,000 children from 7 to 9 years of age.2

Studies using in-person assessment of school-aged children in several U.S. communities report higher estimates of FAS: 6 to 9 out of 1,000 children.34


Few estimates for the full range of FASDs are available. Based on the National Institutes of Health-funded community studies using physical examinations, experts estimate that the full range of FASDs in the United States and some Western European countries might number as high as 1 to 5 per 100 school-aged children (or 1% to 5% of the population).345

FASDs are a group of diagnoses that can occur in a person who was exposed to alcohol before birth. Up to 1 in 20 U.S. school children may have FASDs.
Up to 1 in 20 U.S. school-aged children may have FASDs.


The lifetime cost of care for one individual with FAS in 2002 was estimated to be $2 million. This is an average for people with FAS and does not include data on people with other FASDs. People with certain disabilities, such as profound intellectual disability, have much higher costs. It is estimated that the cost to the United States for FAS alone is over $4 billion annually. [Read summary]

People with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) can experience lifelong issues. FASDs last a lifetime. There is no cure for FASDs, but research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child's development.
People with FASDs can experience lifelong issues.
  1. CDC. Fetal alcohol syndrome-Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, and New York, 1995-1997. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2002;51(20):433-5.
  2. CDC. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Among Children Aged 7-9 Years – Arizona, Colorado, and New York, 2010. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64(3):54-57.
  3. May PA, Baete A, Russo J, Elliott AJ, Blankenship J, Kalberg WO, Buckley D, Brooks M, Hasken J, Abdul-Rahman O, Adam MP, Robinson LK, Manning M, Hoyme HE. Prevalence and characteristics of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2014;134:855-66.
  4. May PA, Gossage JP, Kalberg WO, Robinson LK, Buckley D, Manning M, Hoyme HE. Prevalence and epidemiologic characteristics of FASD from various research methods with an emphasis on recent in-school studies. Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2009;15:176-92.
  5. May PA, Chambers CD, Kalberg WO, Zellner J, Feldman H, Buckley D, Kopald D, Hasken JM, Xu R, Honerkamp-Smith G, Taras H, Manning MA, Robinson LK, Adam MP, Abdul-Rahman O, Vaux K, Jewett T, Elliott AJ, Kable JA, Akshoomoff N, Falk D, Arroyo JA, Hereld D, Riley EP, Charness ME, Coles CD, Warren KR, Jones KL, Hoyme HE. Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in 4 US Communities. Journal of American Medical Association. 2018;319(5):474–482.