Day 55 and 56 of 99 Days: FASD is a Whole Body and Health Disorder

Today we combine two significant health research studies on individuals with FASD.

Day 55 looks at research from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), which identified 428 distinct health conditions that co-occur in people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Day 56 looks at research conducted by three adults with FASD, who surveyed 541 adults about how they commonly experience physical and mental health conditions.

Day 55 of 99 Days: FASD: a Whole Body Disorder

Day 55 of 99 Days to FASDay

The results of the CAMH study were published in January 2016 in The Lancet.

We’ve systematically identified numerous disease conditions co-occurring with FASD, which underscores the fact that it isn’t safe to drink any amount or type of alcohol at any stage of pregnancy, despite the conflicting messages the public may hear.

Alcohol can affect any organ or system in the developing fetus.

~ Dr. Lana Popova, Senior Scientist in Social and Epidemiological Research at CAMH, and lead author on the paper.


However, many disorders occurred more often among those with FASD than in the general population. Based on 33 studies representing 1,728 individuals with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), the researchers were able to conduct a series of meta-analyses to establish the frequency with which 183 disease conditions occurred.

More than 90 percent of those with FAS had co-occurring problems with conduct. About eight in 10 had communications disorders, related to either understanding or expressing language. Seven in 10 had developmental/cognitive disorders, and more than half had problems with attention and hyperactivity.

Journal reference: The Lancet search and more info website

Provided by: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

For more information on this Study visit: FASD: A Whole Body Disorder with 428 Co-occurring Conditions or watch this video from Surrey Place with Myles Himmelreich: FASD: A Whole Body Disorder

Day 56 of 99 Days: Survey of Health of Adults with FASD

Day 56 of 99 Days to FASDay

The study found adults with FASD have greater illness rates than the general population.

From a CBC News article in March 2017:

Myles Himmelreich, CJ Lutke and Emily Travis co-authors of the survey were presented in Vancouver at a conference hosted by the University of British Columbia.

The three, who have FASD, met at a previous international conference and advocate to reduce stigma about the disorder. They had the idea for the survey in 2013 while discussing their array of health issues and hearing similar complaints from others.

Completing the survey, they were surprised to find how prevalent those health problems are.

“Do our bodies age and break down faster? I think it seems like it. There are times where I especially feel like an old lady,” said Lutke, 33.

Among the general population, about five to eight per cent of people suffer from a total of 80 autoimmune diseases. Yet the survey found that 29.5 per cent of people living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder who were surveyed reported having at least one of only 10 of those diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and lupus.

The rate of chronic ear infections among adults who were surveyed was 147 times higher than the general population, and 8.1 per cent of those who took part in the survey reported having hearing loss or problems that began after the age of 20.

Early onset dementia, which happens in people under the age of 65, also affected people in the study at a rate that is 104 times higher than the general population. The average age of respondents in the survey was 27 ½ years old.

Himmelreich said the premature development of diseases means that sore knees in teens can be written off as growing pains or wear and tear rather than something more complex.

Depending on the condition, there can be serious implications of going undiagnosed and untreated.

With 90 per cent of respondents reporting trips to the emergency room and multiple hospitalizations, Lutke said she wonders if misdiagnoses or failure to test symptoms are to blame.

“How many disorders are diagnosed as mental issues when they actually have a physical cause?” Lutke asked.

The vast majority of studies on people living with the disorder have looked at children rather than adults, and many have focus only on behaviour, cognitive development or physical characteristics.

Himmelreich said their goal with the survey findings was to raise new questions in the medical community about the effects of the disorder and encourages clinicians to think about their patients differently.

“We want them to see FASD as not just the brain, because we know and understand so much information about the brain, but also to see how it’s affecting the whole body,” he said.

Come back tomorrow when we look at some of the primary characteristics of FASD.

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