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Q: In your opinion, what percentage of the kids in the orphanages are suffering from FAS/FAE?
 
A: Let me give you the statistic from the book "Psychological development of children in orphanages." It was published in Moscow by Pedagogika Press in 1990 in Russian. What is remarkable about the book is that the data were collected for many years, but the publication became possible only in the free Russia. Information about what is known in this country as FAS is scattered throughout the book (that is, there are no special chapters devoted to this disorder). In the Introduction (pages 3 through 7) there are the following statistical data: 68% of children placed in the system of "detskii dom" (orphanages) were from parents who were legally deprived of their parental rights due to a number of reasons, including "excessive drinking" (the word "alcoholism" was not used, but I do not see much difference at all). Further, the book says that 7% of children were placed in orphanages due to their parents inability to care for them because of illness. Here alcoholism is listed as one of those "illnesses." It is up to you to make sense of those figures. Bear in mind also that there is not a 100% correlation between parental alcoholism and FAS in children (that is: not all children of parents with alcoholism have FAS). The bottom line, however, is that the probability of FAS in children from Russian orphanages is relatively high.
I checked the incidence of FAS in the USA. One source indicated that there are about 1200 children with FAS born each year in the USA. Another two sources I checked complained about the considerable difficulty in determining accurate FAS incident rates because of a "lack of diagnostic agreement for the less severe variations of the syndrome (what is sometimes called Fetal Alcohol Effect - FAE), difficulties in recognizing the constellation of FAS facial features, an inability to identify FAS central nervous system dysfunction until several years after birth, etc. I assume that if it is this difficult in the USA, it should be even more difficult in Russia.
 

 

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