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J Pediatr Psychol. 2006 Jan-Feb;31(1):116-26. Epub 2005 Apr 13.

Prenatal alcohol exposure and ability, academic achievement, and school functioning in adolescence: a longitudinal follow-up.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30306, USA.



Prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with learning, behavioral, and academic problems even in children without the fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).


To examine the prenatal alcohol exposure and ability, academic achievement, and school functioning in adolescence.


In a longitudinal cohort, intelligence, academic performance, and school functioning were evaluated in 265 low socioeconomic status (SES) adolescents (M age = 15.1 years), 128 prenatally exposed to alcohol, 53 controls, and 84 special education students by using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 3rd edition (WISC-III) and the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT). School records were abstracted for grade point averages (GPA), standardized achievement test scores, conduct, attendance, and special education placement.


Alcohol-affected youth had significantly lower IQs than those in the other three groups.


Although academic achievement (WIAT scores) was most impaired in the special education group who showed lower performance over all as well as in reading and spelling, alcohol-affected youth showed significant deficits on mathematics subtests. There was no increased incidence of conduct problems in school records related to alcohol exposure.

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