Attention Deficits in Children Exposed to Alcohol Prenatally


  • The first author was funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Board. This research was completed in partial fulfillment for the PhD degree of the first author in clinical psychology at the University of Saskatchewan.

Reprint requests: Dr. J. L. Nanson, Alvin Buckwold Centre, University Hospital, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 0WO.


Twenty children with fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effect (FAS/FAE) were compared with 20 attention deficit disorder (ADD) children and 20 normal controls on three experimental tasks designed to isolate four different components of attention. Parents completed three questionnaires regarding their child's activity level and overall functioning, and the children completed a short form of an IQ test. The children in each group ranged from 5 to 12 years. Results indicate that although the children with FAS/FAE are significantly more impaired intellectually, their attentional deficits and behavioral problems are similar to those of children with ADD. These findings imply that the treatments known to facilitate learning in children with ADD may also benefit children with FAS/FAE.