Sibling Study

Would children with FAS show changes in behavior, intellectual functioning, or memory if they were removed from unstable, environments and adopted into stable homes?  This is much like the nature/nurture question. This question was explored with several families who adopted sets of biological children (all prenatally exposed to alcohol) who had been in and out of several homes.  The children ranged in age from 3 years to 15 years of age.  They had all been in their adopted homes for at least one year at the time of the evaluation.

The test results were evaluated based upon comparisons to the age appropriate norms.  In addition changes were found between the children (young vs older).  It seems that early intervention in stable, homes with predictable routines and healthy relationships is advantageous for children with various degrees of FAS.

Full details will be presented in August 2016 at the American Psychological Association convention.

Using the Child Behavior Checklist

Many schools, counselors and other professionals use the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach) as a quick method for gathering information about a child’s or teen’s observable behaviors.  This 113 item checklist is completed by the care provider or teacher using a rating scale (never, frequently or always) for behaviors.  When these ratings are “scored” a very helpful profile is discovered.  This profile indicates whether the child’s observed behaviors fall within the “normal” range for categories such as anxious/depressed, somatic, thought problems, social problems, aggressive behavior and other categories.  These can be very helpful.

Our observations over the past 15 years of research indicate that children with prenatal exposure to alcohol have CBCL results that are indicative of problems.  Many times these results are misinterpreted and misdiagnoses are given.  Common misdiagnoses include oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. We have been evaluating the results of children with PEA on the CBCL for the past two years.  We are finding interesting results for 1 1/2 to 5 year olds and forf 6-18 year olds.  Some of the items on the CBCL rarely occur with children and teens in our sample (hold a grudge) whereas other behavior occur frequently (impulsive).

We are hoping to be able to refine our ability to interpret the results of the CBCL in ways that are helpful in developing treatment plans.  We will keep you updated.

Recent Drug Study

A recent study was published in the Lancet ( the UK comparing alcohol with 20 drugs including heroin and crack cocaine.  The study focused on what the drug does to the user and those around the user.  When including a variety of behaviors and consequences of behavior the researchers decided that alcohol was more dangerous than all other drugs studied including heroin and crack.  What this study did not consider are the lifetime effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol for the innocent offspring of the users.