1. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome — how prevalent is it?

There are few things more dangerous to a fetus than alcohol. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is one of the leading causes of birth defects. Babies who are born with fetal alcohol syndrome have physical abnormalities and face a lifetime of learning and behavioral problems.  Surprisingly, doctors don’t know how prevalent the condition is.  To get a better handle on the condition, a new study will soon be launched in San Diego and in three other U.S. cities.

The San Diego Unified School District and the foster-care system will screen up to 3,000 children for the disorder over the next five years.


2. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Diagnosis and Intervention.

Special issue ALCOHOL…Volume 44….Issues 7-8….December, 2010 Abstracts are free.


3. Cerebral Palsy and Alcohol Consumption during Pregnancy: Is There a Connection?

Alcohol and Alcoholism, Volume 45 Number 6 2010 Abel, Pages: 592 – 594  http://alcalc.oxfordjournals.org/content/45/6/592.short?rss%253D1

4. International research into the effects of prenatal ethanol (alcohol) exposure on later behaviors associated with an increased risk for addiction in animal models.

A new federal grant will enable the continuation of research at the University at Buffalo into fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The $1.8 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supports a five-year investigation of the effects of prenatal ethanol (alcohol) exposure on later behaviors associated with an increased risk for addiction in animal models.  http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2011/02/08/ub-researchers-secure-fed-support.html

5. Autism and autistic traits in people exposed to heavy prenatal alcohol

Data from a clinical series of 21 individuals and nested case control study

Associations between fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and other conditions have been reported, but the links between FAS and autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) remain unclear. This study explored the relationship between FAS and ASD in individuals attending a specialist diagnostic clinic. Consecutive referrals over 24 months to a specialist neuro developmental clinic were evaluated using gold standard methods for FAS diagnosis and ASD. The first 18-month cohort who met criteria for ASD were compared with controls attending the same clinic but who had not experienced prenatal alcohol exposure (nested data). Data for the whole group were also collected. Twenty-one fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) individuals were assessed and 16 (72%) met ICD-10 criteria for childhood autism. Further significant differences between the prenatally exposed and non-exposed group with ASD were found in the nested study. The research shows an association between heavy prenatal alcohol exposure and ASD. As this is a small sample in a specialist clinic, the study suggests that a larger, more population-based study of those exposed to heavy prenatal alcohol is warranted.


6. Comparing profiles of learning and memory impairments in 2 groups of children

Children with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure and children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

While children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are known to have deficits in verbal learning and recall, the specifics of these deficits remain unclear. This study compared the verbal learning and memory performance of children with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) with that of children with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), finding that both groups of children have difficulty with learning and memory but in different ways.  Results will be published in the June 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.


7. Adolescent Offspring of Women Who Drank Alcohol During First Trimester of their Pregnancy Three Times as Likely to Develop Conduct Disorder

Dr. Larkby and colleagues found that adolescents exposed to an average of one or more drinks of alcohol per day in the first trimester of pregnancy were three times more likely to meet criteria for a lifetime diagnosis of conduct disorder than were adolescents whose mothers drank less than that amount or abstained. The association of prenatal alcohol exposure and conduct disorder was not linear and the association was significant only at or above the level of one alcohol drink per day during the first trimester. In conclusion, Larkby and colleagues state, “From a clinical perspective, prenatal alcohol exposure should be considered as another risk for conduct disorder. The next steps in research should be to define the interactions between prenatal exposures, environmental factors, and heritability. This would allow a more complete picture of the relations between prenatal alcohol exposure and conduct disorder.”   The study is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2010.12.004

8. Why some children are harmed by mother’s alcohol, but others aren’t

Exposure to alcohol in the womb doesn’t affect all fetuses equally. Why does one woman who drinks alcohol during pregnancy give birth to a child with physical, behavioral or learning problems — known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder — while another woman who also drinks has a child without these problems?  One answer is a gene variation passed on by the mother to her son, according to new North western Medicine research. This gene variation contributes to a fetus’ vulnerability to even moderate alcohol exposure by upsetting the balance of thyroid hormones in the brain. The North western Medicine study with rats is the first to identify a direct genetic mechanism of behavioral deficits caused by fetal alcohol exposure. The study is published in the FASEB Journal


9. Executive Functioning Training in Children with Fetal Alcohol

Children and adolescents with FASD and (PAE) are impaired on many aspects of Executive Functioning.  This PowerPoint presentation explores research studies that have identified interventions to improve executive functioning in children with FASD.