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Pediatrics. 1981 Dec;68(6):850-5.

Developmental language disability as a consequence of prenatal exposure to ethanol.


Two pre-school-aged patients with a history of prenatal exposure to ethanol had abnormal head size and developmental delay. Both children were strikingly similar in physical appearance, behavior, and cognitive dysfunction. Facial features were typical of fetal alcohol syndrome. Head circumference greater than 97th percentile without hydrocephalus and no evidence of prenatal or postnatal growth failure were unusual for ethanol teratogenicity. Each child had a similar pattern of verbal and behavioral dysfunctions characterized by (1) marked hypervigilence, (2) distractability, and (3) cognitive confusion manifested as anxiety and behavioral disorganization. It is suggested that a history of prenatal exposure to ethanol associated with (1) large head circumference, (2) facial features of fetal alcohol syndrome, and (3) early developmental delay, particularly in language acquisition, and impaired modulation of attention and arousal may represent a possible new effect of alcohol teratogenicity.

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