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Module 7: Costs of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Data Sources

Very little data are available on the cost of FAS, and none have been found for alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD) or alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND). Many sources discuss the cost of substance abuse, but few specifically address FASD. Information found to date is from the 1980s to the mid-1990s. A search for more recent data primarily yields references or updates to earlier work.

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Over 30 reports, articles, and other publications include references to the cost of FAS. More than 80 Internet sites also discuss the issue. Most cost information falls into two categories:

  • Total annual cost of FAS to the Nation
  • Lifetime cost of each child born with FAS

The Lewin Group recently updated cost figures and calculated costs for each State and the District of Columbia. Based on a mid-range FAS prevalence rate of 1 per 1,000 live births in the United States, approximately 294,000 individuals age 0 through 77 years have FAS. Direct services for these individuals cost $2.7 billion in 20042. Costs are associated with health care treatment as well as other services, such as special education.

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