Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are a group of developmental disabilities related to prenatal alcohol exposure. FASD is a life-long lasting condition with various neurocognitive impairments and deficits in daily-life functioning. Research also indicates that FASD patients have an increased prevalence for substance use, substance related disorders and other psychiatric disorders. In Germany, data on adult FASD patients and their mental health are rare. The purpose of this paper is to describe substance use and comorbid psychiatric disorders (in addition to FASD) and suicide attempts in adult FASD patients.
The German version of the structured “Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI)” was administered to a convenience sample of patients attending a specialized FASD diagnostic service at a German university hospital to assess psychiatric disorders. Current and lifetime substance use were examined using sections from the German version of the “European Addiction Severity Index (EUROP-ASI-R)” interview.
In total, 31 adults with FASD were included. Two patients were diagnosed with a substance related disorder, one for alcohol and one for cannabis. Nearly half of all patients fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for mild mental retardation, a further 16 per cent fulfilled the criteria for another current comorbid psychiatric disorder. In total, 26 per cent reported at least one suicide attempt.
Given that the body of research literature on FASD in adulthood is sparse, even a clinical sample of thirty individuals expands knowledge on mental health and substance use in the adult FASD population. The sample was comprehensively assessed using validated structured interviews on mental health, substance use and FASD.