Aim: To examine risk and protective factors associated with behavioural problems of children and adolescents following prenatal alcohol exposure.
Methods: A total of 73 children and adolescents with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) were assessed for internalizing, externalizing and total behavioural problems using the Child Behavior Checklist. Linear regression models were used to determine the effects of diagnostic and environmental risk and protective factors on behaviour, while controlling for age, sex and IQ.
Results: Length of time spent in residential care was the most pervasive risk factor associated with internalizing, externalizing and total behavioural problems. A low dysmorphology score was related to more internalizing and total problems.
Conclusions: Children and adolescents prenatally exposed to alcohol faced greater risk of substantive behavioural problems (i) if they were less visibly alcohol affected and (ii) the longer time they had spent in residential care. The results underscore the clinical importance of appropriate services and care for less visibly affected children with FASD and highlight the need to attend to children with FASD being raised in institutions.