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Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2007 Apr;38(2):99-108.

Neurobiology and neurodevelopmental impact of childhood traumatic stress and prenatal alcohol exposure.

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Western Michigan University, 1000 Oakland Drive, 3 floor, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA.



Research reveals that prenatal alcohol exposure and child trauma (i.e., abuse, neglect, sexual abuse) can have deleterious effects on child development across multiple domains. This study analyzed the impact on childhood neurodevelopment of prenatal alcohol exposure and postnatal traumatic experience compared to postnatal traumatic experience alone. Although the harmful effects of both have been well documented individually, there is no research documenting the concurrent effects of prenatal alcohol exposure and postnatal trauma on a child's developmental process.


Transdisciplinary assessment of the children included the core disciplines of medicine, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, social work, and psychology. Medical examination, standardized developmental and intelligence testing, projective tools, parent questionnaires, and psychosocial interviews provided information in the primary developmental areas.


Findings indicated that children who had been exposed prenatally to alcohol along with postnatal traumatic experience had lower intelligence scores and more severe neurodevelopmental deficits in language, memory, visual processing, motor skills, and attention than did traumatized children without prenatal alcohol exposure, as well as greater oppositional/defiant behavior, inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and social problems.


Successful teacher and speech-language pathologist interventions with traumatized children with prenatal alcohol exposure demand a paradigm shift that requires the development of new perspectives and ongoing training.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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