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Module 7: Costs of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

State and Local Cost Information

Very little information is available at the State and local levels. The South Dakota Department of Health estimated in 1983 that the yearly cost of caring for an individual with FAS ranged from $10,000 to $30,000.7 The annual cost was estimated to range from $120,000 to $720,000, depending on prevalence. With a 60-year life expectancy, estimated FAS costs ranged from $7.2 million to $43.2 million.

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Alaska estimated the cost of FAS in 1999 at $1.5 million.8 Expected lifetime costs of 1999 births with FAS in Alaska were estimated to be $21 million to $42 million, based on prevalence rates of 1.4 to 2.8 per 1,000 live births.

Minnesota presented information about a variety of costs associated with FAS in its 1998 report Suffer the Children: The Preventable Tragedy of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Exit Disclaimer Graphic9 Cost figures were estimated by calculating Minnesota's proportion of national costs based on population. The overall annual cost of treating persons with FAS in Minnesota was estimated to be $45 million in 1991.10

Cost information at the local level is scarce. However, in Minnesota, one county had a family with six children diagnosed with FAS. County officials had spent $800,000 for this family for services such as foster care, mental health care, social services, day treatment, and specialized care. Another $1.3 million was expected to be needed for family members still under age 18. Medical care added to these costs. 9

An FAS Prevalence and Cost Calculator Exit Disclaimer Graphic can be downloaded from the Online Clinic run by Dr. Larry Burd, Director of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Center at the University of North Dakota. This calculator allows States and provinces to estimate their prevalence of various fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and associated costs.

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