The impact of an ADHD co-morbidity on the diagnosis of FASD

Can J Clin Pharmacol. Winter 2010;17(1):e165-76. Epub 2010 Apr 6.


Objective: Many children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) also have co-morbid ADHD. The goal of this study was to examine the impact of having a co-morbid ADHD diagnosis on FASD diagnostic results. We compared children with FASD to those with FASD and co-morbid ADHD across the neurobehavioral domains recommended by the Canadian Guidelines in the diagnosis of FASD.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed data from 52 children, aged 4 to 17 years, diagnosed with an FASD at a hospital FASD clinic. Thirty-three of these children had a co-morbid diagnosis of ADHD and 19 did not. Children with FASD and those with FASD and co-morbid ADHD were compared on the following neurobehavioral domains: sensory/motor, cognition, communication, academic achievement, memory, executive functioning, attention, and adaptive behavior.

Results: Children with FASD and ADHD performed significantly worse than those without ADHD on attention but better on academic achievement. No other group differences were significant.

Conclusions: Having an ADHD co-morbidity had little effect on the FASD diagnosis. The results of this project will inform the diagnostic process for FASD and have implications for standardizing diagnostic processes across clinics.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies