Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Notifications to the Western Australian Register of Developmental Anomalies

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There is increasing attention on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in Australia, but there are limited data on their birth prevalence. Our aim was to report on the birth prevalence of FASD in Western Australia.


Data on notified cases of FASD born in Western Australia 1980–2010 were identified from the Western Australian Register of Developmental Anomalies. Tabulated denominator data were obtained from the Midwives Notification System. Prevalence rates per 1000 births were calculated by demographic variables. Prevalence ratios (PRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of Aboriginal compared with non-Aboriginal prevalence rates were calculated. PRs were also calculated to compare rates for births 2000–2010 with 1980–1989.


Two hundred ten cases of FASDs were identified: a birth prevalence of 0.26/1000 births (95% CI 0.23–0.30). The majority of cases reported were Aboriginal (89.5%), a rate of 4.08/1000, compared with 0.03/1000 in notified non-Aboriginal cases, giving a PR of 139 (95% CI 89–215). The prevalence of FASD in 2000–2010 was over twice that in 1980–1989 for both Aboriginal (PR 2.37; CI 1.60–3.51) and non-Aboriginal (PR 2.13; CI 0.68–6.69) children.


There has been a twofold increase in FASD notifications in Western Australia over the last 30 years. Population surveillance data such as these are valuable in advocating for and monitoring the effectiveness of preventive activities and diagnostic and management services.

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