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Keywords:

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome;
  • South Africa;
  • Cognitive-Motor;
  • Griffiths Mental Development Scales

Background: Even though fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) has been reported in nonwestern nations, there is a paucity of information on neurodevelopment in the affected children from those nations. This article reports on a study of cognitive-motor development in a group of children with FAS from a community in the Western Cape Province in South Africa.

Methods: Thirty-four children with FAS and 34 controls from grade 1 (school entry level) classes participated. The two groups comprised Afrikaans-speaking children of mixed ancestry (South African Colored) and were matched for age, sex, and family income. The Griffiths Mental Development Scales were used to assess cognitive motor development of the participants.

Results: A multivariate analysis of covariance was performed to test the group effect on the combined Griffiths subscales adjusting for maternal education. The results showed a significant group effect. Follow-up analyses revealed that a combination of four subscales (Speech and Hearing, Performance, Practical Reasoning, and Eye and Hand Coordination) primarily contributed to the overall effect. Although there was a marginal effect on the Personal-Social subscale, no significant effect on the Locomotor (gross motor) subscale was found.

Conclusions: The results showed that the FAS group was markedly deficient only in higher-order cognitive-motor competencies.