European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 19–27

Foster placed children prenatally exposed to poly-substances

Attention-related problems at ages 2 and 4 1/2

DOI: 10.1007/s00787-004-0350-x

Cite this article as:
Slinning, K. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (2004) 13: 19. doi:10.1007/s00787-004-0350-x


This paper reports on a prospective, longitudinal study of children prenatally exposed to poly-substances, who were reared under minimal postnatal risk conditions. The aim of the study was to examine whether the substance-exposed group exhibited a higher level of attention-related problems than a group of age-matched, nonexposed children. The substance-exposed children (n = 42) evinced significant elevated levels of impulsivity and attention problems on the CBCL and on the ADHD rating scale at ages 2 and 4 1/2 as compared to the non-exposed peers (n = 50). The severity of the attention problems in the substance-exposed group was related to dysfunction in the area of perceptual performance and motor abilities assessed on the McCarthy scales. This finding lends support to the hypothesis of a neurological basis of the behavioral problems. The combination of attention problems and specific cognitive deficits indicates that the children exposed to poly-substances in utero had symptoms associated with ADHD/DAMP. The study suggests that even if children experience adequate care after birth, the accumulation of risk factors associated with prenatal substance exposure is still a potential contributor to impulsivity and attention-related problems in preschool children.

Key words

Prenatal substance-exposure attention cognitive deficits 

Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of OsloBlindern 0317 OsloNorway
  2. 2.Aline Infant and Family CenterOsloNorway

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