A neurodevelopmental framework for the development of interventions for children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Alcohol. Nov-Dec 2010;44(7-8):717-28. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2009.10.009. Epub 2009 Dec 29.


Despite considerable data published on cognitive and behavioral disabilities in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), relatively little information is available on behavioral or pharmacological interventions for alcohol-affected children. The main goals of this article, therefore, are to summarize published intervention studies of FASD and to present a neurodevelopmental framework, based on recent findings from a number of disciplines, for designing new therapies for alcohol-affected children. This framework assumes a neuroconstructionist view, which posits that reciprocal interactions between neural activity and the brain's hardware lead to the progressive formation of intra- and interregional neural connections. In this view, behavioral interventions can be conceptualized as a series of guided experiences that are designed to produce neural activation. Based on evidence from cognitive neuroscience, it is hypothesized that specific interventions targeting executive attention and self-regulation may produce greater generalizable results than those aimed at domain-specific skills in children with FASD. In view of reciprocal interactions between environmental effects and neural structures, the proposed framework suggests that the maximum effects of interventions can eventually be achieved by optimally combining behavioral methods and cognition-enhancing drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / physiopathology
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / therapy*
  • Handling, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Language
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Pregnancy
  • Social Behavior