Neuropsychological comparison of alcohol-exposed children with or without physical features of fetal alcohol syndrome

Neuropsychology. 1998 Jan;12(1):146-53. doi: 10.1037//0894-4105.12.1.146.


Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is associated with behavioral and cognitive deficits. However, the majority of children born to alcohol-abusing women do not meet the formal criteria for FAS and it is not known if the cognitive abilities of these children differ from those of children with FAS. Using a set of neuropsychological tests, 3 groups were compared: (a) children with FAS, (b) children without FAS who were born to alcohol-abusing women (the PEA group), and (c) normal controls. The results indicated that, relative to controls, both the FAS and the PEA groups were impaired on tests of language, verbal learning and memory, academic skills, fine-motor speed, and visual-motor integration. These data suggest that heavy prenatal alcohol exposure is related to a consistent pattern of neuropsychological deficits and the degree of these deficits may be independent of the presence of physical features associated with FAS.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Social Class
  • Verbal Learning / physiology


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol