How many people are affected by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

Reading time: 2 min

In our setting, FASD has a prevalence of approximately 0.1% among newborns in the general population. Nevertheless, a recent study in the Mediterranean area estimates that this figure varies from 4% to 7%, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed by women of childbearing age and, in particular, by pregnant women in each country. It is known to be highest in Eastern Europe, South Africa, Ireland and Canada, among other countries.

In recent years, international adoption has become a very significant sociological and demographic phenomenon. The increase in adoptions is particularly relevant to the increase in prevalence of FASD, because there is a high likelihood of alcohol exposure among children entering an international adoption process. This is because problems related to alcohol are associated with a high risk of social exclusion, homelessness and withdrawal of custody and/or guardianship.

After the United States, Spain is the country with the second highest number of international adoptions from Eastern Europe. By 2019, there had been a total of 23,000 international adoptions from Eastern European countries in Spain. Catalonia is the autonomous community with the highest number of adoptions from these countries.

According to published data, rates of alcohol consumption among the general population in these countries, in particular among women of childbearing age, are very high. Furthermore, they are even higher among women in a situation of socio-economic exclusion. This may lead them to abandon or lose custody of their children.

A study on the prevalence of FASD conducted in 2018 in collaboration with the Institut Català de l'Adopció (ICAA) [Catalan Institute of Adoption], the Departament de Salut de la Genaralitat de Catalunya [the Local Government of Catalonia’s Department of Heath], Hospital Clínic-Maternitat [Hospital Clínic’s Maternity Unit], Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and Hospital Vall d'Hebron, showed that 50% of children adopted from Eastern European countries (represented by Russia and Ukraine in this study) presented FASD in one of its clinical forms.

Substantiated information by:

Marta Astals Vizcaíno
Oscar García Algar

Published: 25 August 2021
Updated: 10 September 2021

The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.


Receive the latest updates related to this content.

Thank you for subscribing!

If this is the first time you subscribe you will receive a confirmation email, check your inbox

An error occurred and we were unable to send your data, please try again later.