From research to practice: an integrative framework for the development of interventions for children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Neuropsychol Rev. 2011 Jun;21(2):204-23. doi: 10.1007/s11065-011-9170-1. Epub 2011 May 6.


Since fetal alcohol syndrome was first described over 35 years ago, considerable progress has been made in the delineation of the neurocognitive profile in children with prenatal alcohol exposure. Preclinical investigators have made impressive strides in elucidating the mechanisms of alcohol teratogenesis and in testing the effectiveness of pharmacological agents and dietary supplementation in the amelioration of alcohol-induced deficits. Despite these advances, only limited progress has been made in the development of evidence-based comprehensive interventions for functional impairment in alcohol-exposed children. Having performed a search in PubMed and PsycINFO using key words, interventions, treatment, fetal alcohol syndrome, prenatal alcohol exposure, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, we found only 12 papers on empirically-based interventions. Only two of these interventions had been replicated and none met the criteria of "well-established," as defined by Chambless and Hollon (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 66(1):7-18, 1998). There has been only limited cross-fertilization of ideas between preclinical and clinical research with regard to the development of interventions. Therefore, we propose a framework that allows integrating data from preclinical and clinical investigations to develop comprehensive intervention programs for children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. This framework underscores the importance of multi-level evaluations and interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology
  • Developmental Disabilities / rehabilitation*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / physiopathology
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / psychology
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / psychology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / therapy
  • Problem Solving
  • Research*
  • Social Behavior
  • Teaching / methods*