Differentiating attention deficits in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder or attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder
Article first published online: 22 JUN 2009
© The Authors. Journal compilation © Mac Keith Press 2009
Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology
Volume 52, Issue 2, pages 205–211, February 2010
How to Cite
KOOISTRA, L., CRAWFORD, S., GIBBARD, B., RAMAGE, B. and KAPLAN, B. J. (2010), Differentiating attention deficits in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder or attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 52: 205–211. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2009.03352.x
- Issue published online: 15 JAN 2010
- Article first published online: 22 JUN 2009
- PUBLICATION DATA Accepted for publication 19th March 2009. Published online 22nd June 2009.
Aim The attention and inhibition problems found in children with attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are also common in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Attempts to distinguish ADHD from FASDs in terms of these deficits are rare and were pursued in this study.
Method A total of 116 children (47 with ADHD, 31 males, 16 females; 30 with FASDs, 17 males, 13 females; and 39 comparison children, 20 males, 19 females) participated. The mean age was 9 years 4 months (SD 1y 8mo) in the ADHD groups, 8 years 10 months (SD 1y 2mo) in the FASD group, and 9 years 1 month (SD 1y 1mo) in the comparison group. Sustained attention was tested with a slow event rate continuous performance task (CPT). Inhibitory control was tested with both a slow and fast event rate Go/No-Go task.
Results On the CPT task, children with ADHD, combined type (ADHD-C), ADHD, primarily inattentive type (ADHD-PI), and FASDs showed greater declines in task performance as a function of time than comparison children, suggesting sustained attention problems in all clinical groups. Children’s Go/No-Go performance was event-rate dependent, with the ADHD-C group being affected in the slow condition and the ADHD-PI and FASD groups having problems with the fast condition.
Interpretation Children with ADHD-C are typically impaired in handling understimulation, while children with FASDs may have problems with overstimulation. The dissociation in responsivity to event rate between groups may have significant differential diagnostic value.