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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1991 Jan-Feb;13(1):57-68.

Prenatal alcohol exposure and cognitive development in the preschool years.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.


The teratogenic effects of drinking during pregnancy on cognitive development were investigated in a cohort of disadvantaged mother-infant pairs. Three indices associated with maternal alcohol use were related to comprehensive cognitive measures obtained during five in-home assessments through age four years, ten months. Birth weight and a tally of craniofacial anomalies were also evaluated as early indicators of fetal alcohol damage. Multiple analyses relating the alcohol and cognitive measures provided no evidence of an adverse alcohol effect on cognitive development in the absence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Assessments based on confidence intervals indicated that an average decrement of more than two points (IQ equivalent) on the five cognitive measures is unlikely for relatively heavy levels of maternal alcohol use or alcohol-related problems. Marginal relationships were observed between cognitive measures and the neonatal indicators, but depended heavily on the influence of a child exhibiting signs consistent with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This case therefore received special attention. The implications of the relationships involving the neonatal indicators were investigated using arguments based on path analysis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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