Children and adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) exhibit a range of physical, cognitive, behavioral, and/or learning deficits, as wells as poor executive functioning (EF). Children and adolescents with FASD often show greater impairments on complex neuropsychological tasks. However, little is known about age-related differences among children and adolescents with FASD.
The goals of this cross-sectional study were to explore the overall profile of neuropsychological impairments and extended previous reports on age-related differences among children and adolescents with FASD.
We compared 117 children and adolescents diagnosed with an FASD (aged 5-17 years), clinically assessed on a broad range of tests covering 6 neurobehavioral domains. Data from a clinical database was used to generate profiles of neuropsychological impairments for clinically referred children and adolescents evaluated for FASD between 2001 and 2005.
Children and adolescents were impaired (relative to the norm) on a number of domains that include academic achievement, language, verbal memory, EF, visual-motor integration, and motor abilities. Older participants with FASD (relative to the norm) showed greater difficulty in areas involving EF or processing of complex information than younger participants.
These results suggest that for children and adolescents with FASD impairments in those areas important for independent functioning may become more pronounced with increasing age. However, further longitudinal research is needed to ascertain age changes over time.
Key Words: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, neuropsychological impairments, age-related differences, children and adolescents