Background: This study aimed to develop an efficient and easily calculable risk score that can be used to identify an individual's risk of having been exposed to alcohol prenatally.
Methods: Data for this study were collected as part of the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Phases 2 and 3. Two cohorts (ages 5 to 17 years) completed a comprehensive neurobehavioral battery and a standard dysmorphology exam: a development cohort (DC; n = 325) and a comparative cohort (CC; n = 523). Both cohorts included two groups: those with histories of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure (AE-DC, n = 121; AE-CC, n = 177) and a control group that included subjects with minimal or no prenatal alcohol exposure (CON-DC, n = 204; CON-CC, n = 346). Behavioral assessments and physical exam data were combined using regression techniques to derive a risk score indicating the likelihood of prenatal alcohol exposure. Subjects were then divided into two subgroups: (1) low risk and (2) high risk. Chi-square (χ2 ) determined classification accuracy and ROC curves were produced to assess the predictive accuracy. Correlations between risk scores and intelligence quotient and executive function scores were calculated.
Results: Subjects were accurately classified in the DC (χ2 = 78.61, p < 0.001) and CC (χ2 = 86.63, p < 0.001). The classification model also performed well in the DC (ROC = 0.835 [SE = 0.024, p < 0.001]) and CC (ROC = 0.786 [SE = 0.021, p < 0.001]). In the AE-CC and CON-CC, there were modest but significant associations between the risk score and executive function (AE-CC: r = -0.20, p = 0.034; CON-CC: r = -0.28, p < 0.001) and intelligence quotient (AE-CC: r = -0.20, p = 0.034; CON-CC: r = -0.28, p < 0.001).
Conclusion(s): The risk score significantly distinguished alcohol-exposed from control subjects and correlated with important cognitive outcomes. It has significant clinical potential and could be easily deployed in clinical settings.
Keywords: behavior; diagnosis; fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; identification; prenatal alcohol exposure; risk score.
© 2021 by the Research Society on Alcoholism.