Shannon Lange, M.P.H., from the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research in Toronto, and colleagues obtained prevalence estimates of FASD among children in the general population by country, World Health Organization (WHO) region, and globally. The authors extracted data on individual study characteristics and prevalence of FASD based on 24 unique studies with 1,416 unique children diagnosed with FASD.

The researchers found that the global prevalence of FASD among children was estimated at 7.7 per 1,000 in the general population. The highest prevalence was seen in the WHO European Region (19.8 per 1,000 population), and the lowest was seen in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (0.1 per 1,000 population). South Africa was estimated to have the highest prevalence of FASD of 187 countries, followed by Croatia and Ireland (111.1, 53.3, and 47.5 per 1,000 population, respectively).

"The findings highlight the need to establish a universal public health message about the potential harm of prenatal alcohol exposure and a routine screening protocol," the authors write. "Brief interventions should be provided, where appropriate."