Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE): Proposed DSM-5 Diagnosis

Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 2016 Apr;47(2):335-46. doi: 10.1007/s10578-015-0566-7.


Over the past 40 years, a significant body of animal and human research has documented the teratogenic effects of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE). Neurobehavioral Disorder associated with PAE is proposed as a new clarifying term, intended to encompass the neurodevelopmental and mental health symptoms associated with PAE. Defining this disorder is a necessary step to adequately characterize these symptoms and allow clinical assessment not possible using existing physically-based diagnostic schemes. Without appropriate diagnostic guidelines, affected individuals are frequently misdiagnosed and treated inappropriately (often to their considerable detriment) by mental health, educational, and criminal justice systems. Three core areas of deficits identified from the available research, including neurocognitive, self-regulation, and adaptive functioning impairments, are discussed and information regarding associated features and disorders, prevalence, course, familial patterns, differential diagnosis, and treatment of the proposed disorder are also provided.

Keywords: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; ND-PAE; Prenatal alcohol exposure; Psychiatric diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / etiology
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / physiopathology