Primary disabilities in children prenatally exposed to alcohol have a major impact on their daily life. It is suggested that these issues persist into adulthood, but few studies have addressed the outcome in adults with prenatal exposure, especially those with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The aim of this follow-up study was to investigate outcome variables, such as education, employment, health, and criminal acts, in 79 adults diagnosed with FAS.
We carried out a national register–based study of 79 adults with an FAS diagnosis, at a mean age of 32. Education, social adjustment, and mental health outcomes were analyzed and compared with 3160 comparison individuals matched on age, gender, and place of birth.
The FAS group was much more likely to have received special education (25% vs 2%), be unemployed (51% vs 15%), and receive a disability pension (31% vs 3%) than the comparisons, but the levels of criminal offenses were similar. The FAS group had higher hospital admission rates for alcohol abuse (9% vs 2%) and psychiatric disorders (33% vs 5%) and was more likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs (57% vs 27%).
Swedish children with FAS have quite diverse psychosocial outcomes in adulthood, considerably worse than for majority population peers. Potential risk and protective factors within the FAS group deserve study to enable development of effective interventions.