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Module 7: Costs of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Total Lifetime Cost of FAS

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The literature contains two well-documented estimates of the total lifetime cost for a person with FAS. Harwood and Napolitano5 estimated lifetime cost at $596,000 in 1980. If this estimate is adjusted for the change in the cost of medical care services, lost productivity, and inflation, the adjusted 2002 cost becomes $2 million for each individual with FAS. This figure is made up of $1.6 million for medical treatment, special education, and residential care for persons with mental retardation, and $0.4 million for productivity losses.

In February 1989, the Senate Advisory Council of the Alaska State Legislature6 estimated the 1988 lifetime cost of each baby born with FAS at $1.4 million. This estimate adapted the approach used by Harwood and Napolitano. It is considered conservative because of excluded costs, such as welfare payments and mental health services.

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