Neurodevelopmental functioning in children with FAS, pFAS, and ARND

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2010 Apr;31(3):192-201. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3181d5a4e2.


Objective: The purpose of this article is to compare the neurodevelopmental profiles of 78 foster and adopted children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), partial FAS (pFAS), or alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND).

Method: Seventy-eight foster and adopted children underwent a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. By using criteria more stringent than those required by current guidelines, the children were placed in 1 of 3 diagnostic categories: FAS, pFAS, or ARND. Each child was evaluated across the domains of neuropsychological functioning most frequently affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol. Multivariate analyses of variance were conducted to examine differences in neuropsychological functioning between the 3 diagnostic groups. Descriptive discriminant analyses were performed in follow-up to the multivariate analyses of variance.

Results: The children in the 3 diagnostic categories were similar for descriptive and child welfare variables. Children with FAS had significantly decreased mean weight, height, and head circumference. Children with FAS exhibited the most impaired level of general intelligence, significantly worse language-based memory compared with children with ARND, and significantly poorer functional communication skills than children with pFAS. On executive functioning, the FAS group of children performed significantly worse on sequencing and shift than either the pFAS or ARND groups. Children with pFAS and ARND were similar in all neurodevelopmental domains that were tested.

Conclusion: The children who met tightly defined physical criteria for a diagnosis of FAS demonstrated significantly poorer neurodevelopmental functioning than children with pFAS and ARND. Children in these latter 2 groups were similar in all neurodevelopmental domains that were tested.

Trial registration: NCT00164346.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adoption
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / pathology
  • Body Size
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / pathology
  • Foster Home Care
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pregnancy

Associated data