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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2001 Jul;25(7):1018-24.

Comparison of the adaptive functioning of children prenatally exposed to alcohol to a nonexposed clinical sample.

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University of California, Los Angeles 90024-1759, USA.



Several studies show impairments in the social and adaptive behaviors of children prenatally exposed to alcohol. However, there remains limited consensus on whether the alcohol exposure directly affects social functioning or whether its effect is mediated by deficits in IQ. In addition, no studies have investigated whether deficits in social functioning are significantly more pronounced in children prenatally exposed to alcohol than in children referred to psychiatric treatment who were not prenatally exposed. We explored the effect of alcohol exposure on social and adaptive functioning and explored whether or not social and adaptive functioning are significantly more impaired in children prenatally exposed to alcohol than in a clinical sample of children.


A sample of 33 alcohol-exposed children was compared with a sample of 33 clinic-referred nonexposed children. The groups were compared on measures of communication, daily living skills, and socialization. The groups were matched on sex, age, IQ, and outpatient or inpatient status.


Analyses revealed that the prenatally alcohol-exposed children did not differ significantly from the nonexposed children in any of the domains of adaptive functioning. However, with age, exposed children showed a more rapid decline in socialization standard scores compared with the nonexposed clinical sample.


Young children who were exposed to alcohol prenatally show deficits in all domains of adaptive functioning. Although these deficits do not seem to differ from those exhibited by young children with psychiatric problems but no prenatal exposure, deficits in socialization behavior of prenatally exposed children may become more significant with age.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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