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Keywords:

  • FAS;
  • Alcoholism;
  • Intelligence;
  • Teratology;
  • Growth

A neonatal examination for fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) should promote the guidance of parents, the planning of remediation for affected children, and the collection of prevalence data. A blinded examination of FAS characteristics conducted as part of a large prospective study of disadvantaged alcohol-exposed infants identified eight neonates who met the published criteria for FAS. These children were followed through the preschool years with a blinded assessment protocol. Seven of these children were found to have no impairment in cognitive and language development, when compared with their peers, and to be of average size. The one child who was mentally and growth retarded at follow-up who had been diagnosed as FAS might not have been diagnosed FAS using clinical criteria (as opposed to blinded research criteria), because his mother provided in-pregnancy reports of only low alcohol intake; she later acknowledged drinking an average of over 21 drinks/week during the pregnancy. The findings are positive in that they provide hope for children who present FAS at birth, although concern with adverse outcomes is certainly not dispelled. In particular, the possibility of later-emerging impairment in more complex tasks is not ruled out.