A First Nations leader said fetal alcohol spectrum disorder — also known as FASD — is an "alarming" problem amongst Canada's Aboriginal population.

The chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was in Sudbury Wednesday for a conference on the subject.

Justice Murray Sinclair says the prevalence of FASD in Aboriginal children can be linked back to the stresses and trauma caused by the residential school system in Canada.

"Clearly it relates to the question of alcohol consumption and alcoholism, both of which are outcomes to individuals having lived a life where they have to resort to alcohol where, in this case, they've been carrying a child," Murray Sinclair said.

Sinclair said the prevalence of FASD in Aboriginal children often results in legal or child welfare issues later in life.

If the number of Aboriginal children with the disorder continues to increase, all of society will feel the impact of "issues of impulse control [and] behavioral issues," Sinclair said.

"Ultimately [there will be] interventions by state authorities such as child welfare agencies when the child is still young — or even youth criminal justice systems or adult criminal justice systems."

Sinclair said a formal study is needed to determine the exact per cent of the population affected by the disorder.