Gender and attention deficits in children diagnosed with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Can J Clin Pharmacol Vol 15(3) Fall 2008:e411-e419; October 24, 2008
Original Research
Lisa E Herman, Michelle C Acosta, Pi-Nian Chang

A portion of children are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Most present with significant difficulties in attention, with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) being the most common psychiatric co-morbidity.

The current study will describe behavioral and executive functioning (EF) deficits in attention in a group of children with FASD. Effects of gender and ADHD diagnosis will be explored.

Existing data from the University of Minnesota's Pediatric Psychology clinic was utilized. Of 191 children with FASD in the database, 36 children (ages 6-16) had complete scores on measures of behavioral and EF attention deficits. Multivariate Analyses of Variance (MANOVA) were used to examine the impact of gender and ADHD diagnosis on behavioral checklist scores and on a variety of EF measures.

FASD males were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD (68%) than FASD females (29%). No impact of gender or diagnosis was found for behavioral measures of attention, but an interaction of gender and diagnosis emerged for EF. Females with ADHD evidenced deficits in EF compared to females without ADHD. However, males with ADHD performed better on measures of EF than their non-ADHD counterparts.

An ADHD diagnosis in FASD children needs to be reconsidered, especially for males.

Key Words: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS); Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD); Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Gender; Executive Functioning (EF)

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