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J Pediatr. 1980 Jun;96(6):978-82.

Behavior and learning difficulties in children of normal intelligence born to alcoholic mothers.


Children referred to the Learning Disorders Unit of the Yale-New Haven Hospital were evaluated for indications of prenatal exposure to ethanol. In a total population of 87 children, 15 were found to have a history of maternal heavy drinking during pregnancy. The 11 boys and four girls ranged in age from 6 1/2 to 18 1/2 years. Birth weights ranged from 1,580 to 3,150 gm, median weight 2,213 gm. All growth measurements were affected: head circumference 60% less than tenth percentile, height 60% less than tenth percentile, weight 74% less than twenty-fifth percentile. The children had a continuum of dysmorphic features of FAS, with an inverse relationship noted between age of presentation and intensity of dysmorphic features. All had intelligence in the average range (IQ 82 to 113), yet experienced persistent academic failure. In addition, all shared problems of activity and attention regulation. Our results suggest a continuum of teratogenic effects of ethanol on the CNS. Alcohol exposure in utero may be an important, preventable determinant of attention deficit syndromes in childhood.

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