Massey Uni study shows FASD highest impact for alcohol harm

The results of a study recently published by Massey University has found that the harm to others (HTO) because of misuse of alcohol is greater than the harm to the health of drinkers themselves, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is the highest in terms of harm – alcohol-fuelled violence and traffic crashes (the two other major quantifiable HTO) trail behind.

The study is the first globally to include FASD as part of an assessment of the burden of disease in order to quantify alcohol's harm to others. It calculated disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for FASD, violence and traffic injury due to another‘s drinking. It found that 90% of the HTO for alcohol can be attributed to FASD, a figure much higher than that relating to HTO from smoking.

Professor Sally Casswell, who led the study, believes the findings will be surprising to many.

Māori were found to suffer harms related to others’ use of alcohol at a higher rate than non-Māori. Years of life lost due to disability affected Māori at a rate of 25 per 1000 of the population – for non-Māori the rate was 15 per 1000.

“These estimates from our research support the claims currently before the Waitangi Tribunal about the Crown’s failure to protect Māori from the impact of alcohol by not putting in place an effective alcohol policy, or responding adequately to FASD,” Professor Casswell says.

The conclusion to the study:

"Disability from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) appears to be a major contributor to alcohol's harm to others in Aotearoa New Zealand. Taking FASD into account, the health burden of harm to others is larger than harm to the drinker in Aotearoa New Zealand, and ethnicity differences show inequity in harm to others. Quantification of the burden of harm informs the value of implementing effective alcohol policies and should include the full range of harms."

There is more info in an article from the university here; the full study can be found here

Alcohol Healthwatch put out a media release on these findings which can be read here