Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: An Overview

  • Edward P. Riley
  • M. Alejandra Infante
  • Kenneth R. Warren
Review

Abstract

When fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) was initially described, diagnosis was based upon physical parameters including facial anomalies and growth retardation, with evidence of developmental delay or mental deficiency. Forty years of research has shown that FAS lies towards the extreme end of what are now termed fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). The most profound effects of prenatal alcohol exposure are on the developing brain and the cognitive and behavioral effects that ensue. Alcohol exposure affects brain development via numerous pathways at all stages from neurogenesis to myelination. For example, the same processes that give rise to the facial characteristics of FAS also cause abnormal brain development. Behaviors as diverse as executive functioning to motor control are affected. This special issue of Neuropsychology Review addresses these changes in brain and behavior highlighting the relationship between the two. A diagnostic goal is to recognize FAS as a disorder of brain rather than one of physical characteristics.

Keywords

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) Prenatal alcohol exposure Brain-behavior 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward P. Riley
    • 1
  • M. Alejandra Infante
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kenneth R. Warren
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Center for Behavioral TeratologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.San Diego State University/University of California San Diego, Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical PsychologySan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismBethesdaUSA

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