To examine health services, social services, education, and justice system outcomes among First Nations children and youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
In this retrospective cohort study, health and social services, education, and justice data were linked with clinical records on First Nations (FN) individuals aged 1 to 25 and diagnosed with FASD between 1999 and 2010 (n = 743). We compared the FN FASD group to non-FN individuals with FASD (non-FN FASD; n = 315) and to First Nations individuals (matched on age, sex, and income) not diagnosed with FASD (FN non-FASD; n = 2229). Rates and relative risks (RRs) were calculated using generalized linear models.
FN FASD individuals had similar health services use to non-FN FASD individuals but had greater involvement with child welfare (RR, 1.20; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02 to 1.41) and the justice system (RR, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.07 to 1.74) and were more likely to be charged with a crime (RR, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.05 to 1.86). There were no suicides/suicide attempts among the non-FN FASD individuals during the study, but the crude rate/100 person-years of suicides among FN FASD individuals (0.22 for females; 1.06 for males) was substantially higher than for FN non-FASD individuals (0.08 for females; 0.32 for males). There were no significant differences between groups in the education outcomes we measured.
Young people with FASD are at risk for poor health, education, and social outcomes, but First Nations young people with FASD face comparably higher risks, particularly with child welfare and justice system involvement. The study emphasizes a critical need for appropriate resources for First Nations children with FASD.
Marni Brownell, PhD, Jennifer E. Enns, PhD, Ana Hanlon-Dearman, MD, FRCPC, FAAP, Dan Chateau, PhD, Wanda Phillips-Beck, RN, BN, MSc, Deepa Singal, PhD, Leonard MacWilliam, MSc, Sally Longstaffe, PhD, Ab Chudley, MD, FRCPC, FCCMG, Brenda Elias, PhD, Noralou Roos, PhD
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, December 30, 2018