There has been some stir lately over another blog post discussing the average life expectancy of a person affected by FASD. The statistics currently published state average life expectancy for someone affected by an FASD to be 34 years of age.
Let that sink in a moment.
Now an average life expectancy is just that - an average. So by definition some people will live longer, even much longer, but some will live shorter, even much shorter. The thing about the number 34 that makes an impact on me in a logical sense is that the average life expectancy for the general population in the US is 78 years, in the UK 81 years, Canada also 81years, but the average expectancy for persons with FASD is 34. Will some people live longer than 78- 81 years in the US, UK and Canada - sure. Will some live shorter - absolutely. But the difference in average life expectancy is MORE than 50%!!!
To put it in an even wider perspective – people affected by FASD have a lower average life expectancy than the average person in countries with the lowest overall life expectancies in the world (per the World Health Organization’s most recent statistics). Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Somalia, Swaziland, Angola, Chad, Mali, Burundi, Cameroon, and Mozambique all have average life expectancies that fall between 48 and 60 years. It’s no accident that these are also listed as the poorest countries in the world.
It is absolutely unacceptable that the average life expectancy of someone with a neurocognitive disability be less than half of that of the general population of the same country. That the difference in average life expectancy for persons living in a first world country to compare so unfavorably to the poorest of the poor boggles my mind. Especially because those with FASD do NOT have to have such reduced life expectancy. If our countries were putting more time and effort into studying the real health challenges associated with FASD and supporting the neurocognitive differences associated with it that average could absolutely be improved.
To look at the number yet another way – Autistic persons have an average life expectancy of 54 years – lower than the general population in 1st world countries but significantly higher than 34. The average life expectancy for Autistic persons has also been increasing – at a slower rate than that of the general population but with a noticeable trend. The statistic for those with FASD has not.
I never would have believed that one number could loom so large.
My Little Man just turned 10.
If we both live out the average life expectancy for the population we fall within, my son will die 2 years before I do.
I cannot and will not accept