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Curr Dev Disord Rep. 2015 Sep;2(3):219-227. Epub 2015 Jun 24.

What Happens When Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Become Adults?

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Center for Behavioral Teratology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92120.


The range of structural abnormalities and functional deficits caused by prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) are referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). The disabilities associated with FASDs are said to be lifelong, but we know relatively little regarding outcomes beyond childhood and adolescence. Many of physical, brain, and neurobehavioral features that are present in children with FASDs will endure to adulthood. However, some features may diminish or change over time. Furthermore, secondary disabilities, such as school drop outs, trouble with the law, and substance/alcohol abuse problems are common in young adults with FASDs. The health consequences associated with PAE in the human adult are unknown, but animal models suggest that they may be more susceptible to chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, immune dysfunction, and cancer. More research is needed to understand the lasting effects of PAE on adults and the developmental trajectories of FASDs.


adult; behavior; cognition; fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; health

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