Review

Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 81-101

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Neuropsychological and Behavioral Features

  • Sarah N. MattsonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Center for Behavioral Teratology, San Diego State University Email author 
  • , Nicole CrockerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Center for Behavioral Teratology, San Diego State University
  • , Tanya T. NguyenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Center for Behavioral Teratology, San Diego State University

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Abstract

Heavy prenatal alcohol exposure can cause alterations to the developing brain. The resulting neurobehavioral deficits seen following this exposure are wide-ranging and potentially devastating and, therefore, are of significant concern to individuals, families, communities, and society. These effects occur on a continuum, and qualitatively similar neuropsychological and behavioral features are seen across the spectrum of effect. The term fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) has been used to emphasize the continuous nature of the outcomes of prenatal alcohol exposure, with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) representing one point on the spectrum. This paper will provide a comprehensive review of the neuropsychological and behavioral effects of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure, including a discussion of the emerging neurobehavioral profile. Supporting studies of lower levels of exposure, brain-behavior associations, and animal model systems will be included when appropriate.

Key Words

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) Neuropsychological outcome Behavior Neurobehavioral profile Behavioral teratology