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Module 7: Costs of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Introduction

Receipt

FASD has enormous financial and social costs. Because of difficulties diagnosing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, cost figures are only available for FAS. In the United States, costs associated with caring for persons with FAS may be as high as $6 billion.1 The lifetime cost for each individual with FAS is $2 million or more, depending on how the costs are calculated.1

It is typical for persons with an FASD other than FAS to use a broad range of services, including health care, educational support, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and developmental disabilities services. In addition, they may become involved with the juvenile and criminal justice system. Thus, if the cost of services for all persons with an FASD were known, the costs would be much higher.

Even before FAS was identified, billions were spent treating birth defects and other symptoms that were probably related to prenatal alcohol exposure but were not directly attributed to it. Today, services are provided to individuals with disabilities related to prenatal alcohol exposure even though they might not have a formal diagnosis.

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