Language impairments in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

J Popul Ther Clin Pharmacol. 2011;18(2):e364-76. Epub 2011 Jun 15.


Background: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is associated with a range of disabilities, including physical, behavioural, and cognitive deficits. One specific area of concern in children with FASD is the use and development of speech and language. Language deficits in FASD have been linked to learning problems and social difficulties.

Objectives: The current study sought to examine the language difficulties of children with FASD, and to identify areas of deficit that may be particularly pronounced among these children.

Methods: Fifty children, aged 5 to 13, (27 with FASD, 23 control children) were tested on the CREVT-2, the TOLD-P:3, and the TOLD-I:3.

Results: Children with FASD had significantly lower scores than control children on both receptive and expressive subtests of the CREVT-2. Younger children scored significantly lower than controls on the Relational Vocabulary and Sentence Imitation subtests of the TOLD-P:3, and older children were significantly delayed on the Word Ordering, Grammatic Comprehension, and Malapropisms subtests of the TOLD-I:3.

Conclusions: This study identified several areas of marked difficulty in children with FASD, adding to the current understanding of language development in this population. The results have implications for tailoring early interventions, and for providing evidence-based support to children prenatally exposed to alcohol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication*
  • Comprehension
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Language Development Disorders / epidemiology
  • Language Development Disorders / etiology*
  • Language Tests
  • Learning Disabilities / etiology
  • Male
  • Pregnancy