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J Ment Health. 2011 Oct;20(5):438-48. doi: 10.3109/09638237.2011.577113. Epub 2011 Jul 22.

Mental health issues in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

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Department of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.



High numbers of individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) have been described as having mental health problems.


 This article summarizes research about mental health problems in FASD and considers related developmental and environmental issues.


A computer-based literature search was conducted in the databases Medline, PsycINFO, Google Scholar, Academic Search Complete, and Education Resources Information Centre for articles addressing the prevalence and types of mental health issues in individuals affected by FASD.


 High rates of mental disorders within the FASD and prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) population were found to be consistently reported for both internalizing and externalizing disorders. Moreover, problems that emerge in childhood may reflect a convergence of genetic, environmental, and neurophysiological factors that persist into adulthood.


Researchers are beginning to document the impacts of PAE on later mental health development. Further longitudinal study is needed to determine whether there is an increasing severity of mental health deficits and consequences with age, and whether any such changes reflect increasingly deteriorating environmental factors or brain-based factors. Additionally, research is needed to design interventions to better address the unique mental health needs of this population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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