Profile of Mothers of Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: A Population-Based Study in Canada
To compare the characteristics of mothers of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) with mothers of typically developing control children.
The study utilized a cross-sectional, observational design, using active case ascertainment. Biological mothers were interviewed using a standardized retrospective questionnaire to collect data on demographics, living environment, pregnancy history, nutrition, alcohol and other drug use prior to and following pregnancy recognition.
A total of 173 mothers were interviewed. Of these, 19 had a child who was diagnosed with FASD, five had a child who had received a deferred FASD diagnosis, and 37 had children who were selected into the control group as typically developing children. The remaining 112 mothers had children who did not meet diagnostic criteria for FASD. The mothers of children with FASD did not differ significantly from mothers of the control group children with respect to age, ethnicity, marital status, and employment status at the time of pregnancy. However, mothers of children with FASD had lower levels of education (p < 0.01) and were more likely to have received financial support (p < 0.05) at the time of pregnancy, to have smoked tobacco (p < 0.001), and to have used marijuana or hashish (p < 0.01) prior to pregnancy recognition, compared with mothers of control children. All mothers of children with FASD reported alcohol consumption prior to pregnancy recognition; however, only 10.5% reported alcohol consumption following pregnancy recognition. None of the mothers interviewed reported any drug use following pregnancy recognition.
Population-based preventive interventions, including repeated screening, monitoring, and education regarding the effects of alcohol use, as well as other substances, before and during pregnancy, are needed to eliminate risk for FASD and other negative consequences on child and maternal health.