Fetal alcohol syndrome in adolescents and adults

"Maladaptive behaviors present the greatest challenge"

A. P. Streissguth, J. M. Aase, S. K. Clarren, S. P. Randels, R. A. LaDue and D. F. Smith
Department of Psychiatry, Child Development/Mental Retardation Center, Seattle, WA.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a specific recognizable pattern of malformation. Manifestations in 61 adolescents and adults suffering from alcohol teratogenesis are presented. After puberty, the faces of patients with fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effects were not as distinctive. Patients tended to remain short and microcephalic, although their weight was somewhat closer to the mean. The average IQ was 68, but the range of IQ scores widely varied. Average academic functioning was at the second- to fourth-grade levels, with arithmetic deficits most characteristic. Maladaptive behaviors such as poor judgment, distractibility, and difficulty perceiving social cues were common. Family environments were remarkably unstable. Fetal alcohol syndrome is not just a childhood disorder; there is a predictable long-term progression of the disorder into adulthood, in which maladaptive behaviors present the greatest challenge to management.

JAMA, Vol. 265 No. 15, April 17, 1991

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