Attention, distraction and reaction time at age 7 years and prenatal alcohol exposure

Neurobehav Toxicol Teratol. Nov-Dec 1986;8(6):717-25.


This report is one phase of a longitudinal prospective study on the behavioral teratology of alcohol. The present study evaluated the effect of early prenatal alcohol exposure (assessed during pregnancy) on reaction time, attention and distraction in 475 young school-age children who took a computerized CPT vigilance task. Multiple regression analyses were adjusted for a variety of co-variates including other exposures, postnatal conditions and demographics. Prenatal alcohol exposure was most significantly related to CPT errors of commission, reaction time, and the vigilance errors summary score. Error scores on the vigilance task were also significantly correlated with independent behavior ratings of endurance, persistence, organization, distractibility and impulsivity. This study supports and extends earlier reports of alcohol-related attentional deficits observable in the neonatal period and in the preschool years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention / drug effects*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / drug effects*
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Regression Analysis
  • Smoking


  • Ethanol