Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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Foster Kids, Children in Orphanages at Higher Risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Experts say no amount of alcohol is known to be safe during pregnancy. (Getty Images)

Experts say no amount of alcohol is known to be safe during pregnancy. (Getty Images)

By Angela Hart

Children who grow up in foster care or are adopted from orphanages are more at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome because there is a higher probability that their mothers consumed alcohol during pregnancy. An international study published Monday strongly recommends that infants and adolescents in these child welfare settings be tested for the disorder.

“It is imperative that screening be implemented in these at-risk populations,” reported the authors of the study, “Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Child Care Setting.” The researchers conducted a meta-analysis, where they pooled data from past studies.

Fetal alcohol syndrome can cause a cascade of problems, including physical deformities, developmental delay, learning disorders and behavior problems.

Svetlana Popova of the University of Toronto said she and three other researchers collected international data from peer-reviewed journals, government reports and books. They found that 6 percent of children who live in foster homes or similar care settings have fetal alcohol syndrome. This rate is approximately nine to 60 times higher than that in the general population internationally and up to 30 times higher than the prevalence of the disorder in the general population in the U.S., which is between 0.2 and 0.7 percent, Popova said in an interview. Continue reading