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Prenatal alcohol exposure has effects far beyond fetal alcohol syndrome

  • Many children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) have an IQ of less than 70.
  • Less is known about IQ deficits in children with alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), who have generally subtler neurobehavioral deficits than those with FAS.
  • New findings indicate substantial effects on IQ among children with ARND who were born to older mothers, mothers with alcohol dependence, and mothers who drank during the time of conception.

Numerous studies have documented IQ deficits in children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Little research, however, has found IQ deficits in children with alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), who generally exhibit less severe neurobehavioral deficits than children with FAS. A study in the November issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research examines the relationship between selected variables and prenatal alcohol exposure on subsequent IQ. Results indicate that maternal age and first-trimester drinking by mothers with a history of drinking problems can have substantial effects on IQ.

"FAS is characterized by growth retardation, central nervous system impairment, and a distinctive pattern of craniofacial anomalies," said Sandra W. Jacobson, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Wayne State University School of Medicine, and first author of the study. "ARND refers to nonsyndromal individuals with confirmed heavy prenatal alcohol exposure who exhibit measurable, but generally subtler neurobehavioral deficits than those seen with FAS. Whereas FAS is well established and easier to diagnose, it is not generally recognized that a child can be adversely affected by prenatal alcohol exposure without the characteristic facial features and growth deficits. Nonetheless, alcohol-exposed children with attention deficits or poor social judgment who lack the pattern of facial dysmorphic features may suffer from a similar set of
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14-Nov-2004


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