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National Organisation for FASD Australia

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Prevalence of FASD FAQs

Here are some answers to questions we frequently get asked about FAS & FASD via our NOFASD Australia support service. If you have further questions or concerns relating to your specific situation please do not hesitate to contact us.

We would like to thank the parents that provided feedback on these FAQs.

If you have a question that is not on this page, please contact us. NOFASD’s qualified and experienced staff will be happy to answer your questions and provide confidential, accurate advice.

More Frequently Asked Questions About FASD

FASD Prevalence - Frequently Asked Questions

There are some areas of overlap between these three disorders as they are all neurodevelopmental conditions. However, in order for a diagnosis of FASD to be made, there must be confirmed evidence of prenatal alcohol exposure, and the sentinel facial features may be present.

There is some overlap in the brain functions affected in these conditions. Children with ADHD have difficulties in attention, impulsivity or both, and those with ASD may have impairments in cognition, social communication and language. A child with FASD may also be affected in some or all these areas but would need assessment of their motor skills, and memory and other domains. Sensory difficulties may also be present in FASD and ASD. Clinicians conducting assessments of children use standardised tools to help them make an accurate diagnosis. However, it is not unusual for a child with FASD to be first assessed for an autism spectrum disorder, particularly if a child has language or communication delays.

See the Australian guide to the diagnosis of FASD for more.

Yes. The misdiagnoses of FASD with other conditions does happen. This may be due to a lack of knowledge about FASD by health professionals, or reluctance to ask questions about prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) due to stigma surrounding alcohol use. Research by Chasnoff et al., (2015) found that within their clinical sample, 86.5% of youth with FASD had never been previously diagnosed or had been misdiagnosed.

Yes, research by Burd (2016), indicated that an ADHD diagnosis indicated an increased risk of FASD and that FASD was a leading cause of ADHD. In fact, a diagnosis of ADHD will meet one of the 3 domains of impairment required for a FASD diagnosis.

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