Plenary Session 3

Global maternal alcohol consumption and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: prevalence, comorbidities, economic cost and brief interventions.

Svetlana Popova, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, University of Toronto, Canada

Chair: L. Segura

Abstract: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a disabling and lifelong condition and is the leading known preventable birth defect and cause of developmental delay. Despite Public Health efforts, pregnant women around the globe continue to consume alcohol during pregnancy. The presentation will cover the following topics:

  1. The World Health Organization (WHO) data on percentage of current drinkers, heavy episodic drinkers and alcohol per capita consumption among women of childbearing age (15-49) globally;
  2. The prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)/FASD among general and special sub-populations (e.g., children in care, corrections, Aboriginal communities) in different countries, WHO regions and globally;
  3. Comorbidities associated with FASD;
  4. Economic cost associated with FASD;
  5. The efficacy of brief intervention in pregnancy

Findings of recent research studies clearly demonstrate that FASD is prevalent alcohol-related birth defect and thus, it is a significant public health problem globally. It is crucial to improve prevention of alcohol use during pregnancy, diagnostic screening strategies, targeted interventions, including brief intervention, for women of childbearing age with substance use problems, diagnosis informed care, and the provision of support for people with FASD and their families.

Svetlana Popova is a Senior Scientist at the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre; Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Epidemiology Division and the Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto; Graduate Faculty Full Member with the Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto.

Dr. Popova's research focuses on substance abuse and disease burden, and evidence-based policy development. She has a particular interest in the epidemiology, economic cost, prevention and intervention strategies related to substance use during pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Currently, Dr. Popova is a Principal Investigator of one of the largest international studies, guided by the WHO and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), on determining the global prevalence of FASD among children in low- and middle-income countries of Eastern and Central Europe, Africa, as well as Canada. Dr. Popova also collaborates on the Global Burden of Disease studies (GBD) on alcohol consumption as a risk factor for burden of disease.

Dr. Popova has authored more than 100 papers and book chapters. Her research has been published in high-impact journals such as The Lancet, The Lancet Global Health, JAMA Pediatrics, and is widely read and cited.