A systematic review of the prevalence of foetal alcohol syndrome disorders among young people in the criminal justice system

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Exeter
  • University of Manchester
  • Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust


Given the established association between foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and risk of criminality and criminalisation, this systematic review examines the prevalence of FASD within youth justice systems. Four relevant sources were identified. Each source suggests a disproportionate prevalence in comparison to the general youth population. However, this masks significant variation between studies, and a much-heightened prevalence of FASD among Aboriginal youth in custody. The continued lack of research establishing prevalence, limits the potential for strong conclusions and suggests an imperative for improved processes of identification. This highlights systematic deficits in the ability to assess or even screen for FASD, with particular challenges for the youth justice system. Until such challenges can be resolved, it is likely that young people with FASD will remain hidden within a system in which they are at great risk of inadequate support, discrimination and criminalisation.


Original languageEnglish
JournalCogent Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2016


  • foetal alcohol spectrum disorders , foetal alcohol effects , foetal alcohol syndrome , youth crime , youth justice; , systematic review