Children of Alcoholic Mothers: Developmental, Perceptual and Behavioural Characteristics as Compared to Matched Controls



ABSTRACT. From a retrospective material including all the 103 children of 30 alcoholic women, the 21 youngest born 1970-76, were paired to controls matched for sex, age, birth weight, gestational age and living area. IQ scores were measured with Griffiths and WISC scales. Controls tested within the normal range for Swedish children, while the study group scored 15-19 IQ points below controls (p<0.01), the means of the study group corresponding to -1.6 SD below means of the controls. Significant differences between the groups were found in all subscales. Visual perception was measured with Frostig's test. Perceptual age was generally equal to mental age except in the most severely affected cases where perceptional age was lower than mental age. A marked perceptual delay exceeding 1 year was found in 8/17 tested cases in the study group, while all controls were normal. Developmental levels evaluated from Human Figure Drawings according to Koppitz was in accordance with IQ testresults. Indicators of emotional instability were found significantly more often in the study group than in controls. Hyperactivity, distractability and short attention span were found in 12/21 cases and perseveration in 6/21 cases but not among controls. Members of the study group with traits of the fetal alcohol syndrome (10/21) had significantly lower IQ and perceptual delay was more pronouned than in members without such signs. No significant IQ difference was found between subjects reared in foster homes and in biological homes.