What is FASD?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, also called FASD, is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder caused by exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. FASD may result in a range of physical, mental, and behavioral difficulties, as well as learning problems. These challenges can include problems in social communication and attention, motor and sensory problems, memory, and difficulty learning from consequences.

What are the impacts of FASD?

The impacts of FASD are felt in a range of areas in society, particularly in the health, education, child welfare, and criminal justice systems. In 2013, estimated costs related to FASD were approximately $1.8 billion. Although there is growing awareness of this complex disorder, it remains highly stigmatized.

How many people have FASD?

The number of people with the disorder is unknown. This is because it’s difficult to diagnose and often goes undetected.  Based on existing published Canadian evidence, FASD prevalence estimates range from 0.09% to 2.9%. In 2021, the Public Health Agency of Canada published a study estimating the prevalence at 0.1% based on national survey data.


What is a Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) assessment?

Assessments involve understanding what we know and—more importantly—what we do not know about the science underlying an issue within Canadian health care. These assessments define questions that remain unanswered and establish a holistic view of complex issues by examining the validity of the science informing them. They are grounded on the CAHS’ underlying mission: conducting strategic, unbiased, and expert collaborative reports, based on transparency and independence.

Why is the CAHS leading this work?

The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences has completed assessments on other key issues where there is interest in a pan-Canadian approach. The most recent assessment was on the health workforce and prior to that on autism and dementia. CAHS was selected by the Public Health Agency of Canada to conduct this assessment on FASD.

Is the panel influenced by specific groups and/or specific views?

No. Panel members make a commitment to be open to other ideas. CAHS brings together experts in an unbiased, transparent, and independent way to provide evidence-based reports that are meant to inform policymakers.


Who will the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences consult with for this assessment?

CAHS will engage and consult with individuals with FASD, their family and caregivers, organizations with an interest in FASD, federal, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, and others.

How can I get involved?

We appreciate your interest. To learn about upcoming opportunities for involvement, sign up to our mailing list by emailing fasd-tsaf@cahs-acss.ca. We will also update this page as opportunities become available.

About the Assessment
Engagement Process