Fetal alcohol harm bill up to $200m

NZ Herald 19 August 2016
New Zealand could be losing as much as $200 million in productivity to preventable fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), a new study has found.

Days after the Government’s launch of a new action plan to tackle the problem, an analysis published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal has estimated its enormous cost to the country.

Babies exposed to alcohol before birth are at risk of developing the incurable, life-long condition, which can cause permanent damage to the body and brain, resulting in heart defects, blindness, behavioural issues and intellectual disability.

The study authors point to its wider implications for the country, putting greater demand on health services, bringing poorer educational performance, lowering labour productivity and increasing pressure on the justice system.

The new study suggested about 0.1 per cent of the population — or 4400 Kiwis — were affected by fetal alcohol syndrome, the most severe form, while 0.9 per cent, or 39,900, suffered from general FASD conditions.
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