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Afr J Psychiatry (Johannesbg). 2011 Sep;14(4):298-305. doi:

Developmental delay of infants and young children with and without fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa.

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Institute for Child, Youth and Family Studies, Hugenote College, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.



To describe the extent and nature of developmental delay at different stages in childhood in a community in South Africa, with a known high rate of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).


cohort of infants, clinically examined for FASD at two time periods, 7-12 months (N= 392; 45 FASD) and 17-21 months of age (N = 83, 35 FASD) were assessed using the Griffiths Mental Developmental Scales (GMDS).


Infants and children with FASD perform worse than their Non-FASD counterparts over all scales and total developmental quotients. Mean quotients for both groups decline between assessments across subscales with a particularly marked decline in the hearing and language scale at Time 2 (scores dropping from 110.6 to 83.1 in the Non-FASD group and 106.3 to 72.7 in the FASD group; P = 0.004). By early childhood the developmental gap between the groups widens with low maternal education, maternal depression, high parity and previous loss of sibling/s influencing development during early childhood.


The FASD group show more evidence of developmental delay over both time points compared to their Non-FASD counterparts. Demographic and socio-economic factors further impact early childhood. These findings are important in setting up primary level psycho-educational and national prevention programmes especially in periurban communities with a focus on early childhood development and FASD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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