INTRODUCTION: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is an important preventable public health concern, associated to a number of common pediatric problems such as incontinence. Little is known about the prevalence and presentation of incontinence in FASD, which hinders effective management.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of the present study was to investigate incontinence among people with FASD.
STUDY DESIGN: Parental questionnaires were sent to all eligible FASD participants. To enable comparing the observed prevalence with typically developing, non-prenatally alcohol-exposed individuals, two clinical control groups of patients undergoing immunotherapy for pollen allergy (GKA) and patients diagnosed with celiac disease (GKG) were selected.
RESULTS: A total of 119 participants were included in the study (FAS: n = 24, partial fetal alcohol syndrome [pFAS]: n = 19, alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder [ARND]: n = 28, GKA: n = 34, and GKG: n = 14). Overall incontinence for FASD was estimated to be 24% (confidence interval [CI] ranges from 15 to 36); nocturnal enuresis (NE) was present in 10% (CI ranges from 4 to 19), daytime urinary incontinence (DUI) in 11% (CI ranges from 5 to 21), and fecal incontinence (FI) in 13% (CI ranges from 6 to 23). Symptoms of urgency were present for 52%, voiding postponement for 10%, and straining for 2%. These data are both consistent with higher prevalence in individuals with FASD and with similar prevalence (the CIs overlap).
CONCLUSION: Children and adolescents with FAS, pFAS, ARND, GKA, and GKG are affected by incontinence. Highest rates were observed in pFAS and ARND. Persons with FAS were mostly affected by DUI, those with pFAS by NE, and those with ARND by FI.