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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1989 Sep-Oct;11(5):493-507.

Neurobehavioral effects of prenatal alcohol: Part III. PLS analyses of neuropsychologic tests.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


This paper is the third in a three-part series describing an investigation of the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on the neurobehavioral functioning of 384 children about 7 1/2 years old. Here we describe the use of Partial Least Squares for data reduction and analysis of 158 neurobehavioral measures as they relate to 13 aspects of prenatal alcohol exposure. A general alcohol latent variable, emphasizing both binge and regular drinking patterns in the period prior to pregnancy recognition as well as during pregnancy, predicts a pattern of neurobehavioral deficit that includes attentional and memory deficits across both verbal and visual modalities; a variety of "process" variables reflecting poor integration and quality of responses; behavior patterns involving distractibility and poor organization; and an inflexible approach to problem-solving. The prominence of poorer spatial organization and arithmetic as primary outcomes of alcohol teratogenesis suggests a possible "nonverbal learning disability" pattern of deficit associated with prenatal alcohol exposure at the level of social drinking.

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