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FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME


NEUROBEHAVIORAL FEATURES OF FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME AND ALCOHOL-RELATED BIRTH DEFECTS AND NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS

Impaired cognitive and psychosocial function are the most disabling features of FAS and ARBD. Children with FAS have a broad range of IQs with an average IQ of about 70. Cognitive deficits are common in children after heavy prenatal alcohol exposure with or without the physical features of FAS.

About 80% of children with FAS have obvious behavioral abnormalities by middle-school age. About 50% of children affected with FAS have some combination of poor coordination, hypotonia (decreased muscle tone) or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and frequently have poor interpersonal skills. Even in the absence of mental retardation some children have poor executive function, verbal learning and memory deficits, especially spatial memory. While some children have intelligence in the normal range, many experience academic failure due to problems of activity and attention regulation (especially visual and auditory), severe learning disabilities, behavior disorder, delayed motor development, poor balance and marked instability.

Many children also exhibit sleep disorder, abnormal habits and stereotypy. Auditory problems that are also common include a developmental delay in auditory maturation, sensorineural hearing loss, intermittent conductive hearing loss due to recurrent serious otitis media and central hearing loss.

 

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