a1 University of Washington
a2 University of Michigan
The population-based Seattle Longitudinal Prospective Study on Alcohol and Pregnancy unites the fields of developmental psychopathology and behavioral teratology. Examining prenatal biological influences on childhood learning problems, this report is the first to extend earlier findings of alcohol-related deficits into late childhood. This follow-up study of 458 singletons assesses the degree to which children's classroom behavior and achievement difficulties at age 11 are predicted by prenatal alcohol exposure across the full spectrum of maternal use. Partial least squares statistical techniques are used to summarize complex multiple measures of exposure and outcome as latent variables. Accounting for many factors potentially important in development, analyses reveal a significant and subtle dose-response relationship between prenatal alcohol exposure and children's school performance a decade later. Maternal binge drinking (five or more drinks per occasion) and drinking during very early pregnancy are particularly salient for children's poorer school performance. A wide variety of problematic classroom behaviors, including attentional, activity, information-processing, and academic difficulties, are salient for prenatal alcohol exposure. Considered within the body of data on alcohol teratogenesis, these findings suggest that prenatal alcohol exposure has an enduring and predictable relationship with developmental difficulties through late childhood. Clinical, research, and public health implications are discussed.
c1 Address reprint requests to: Heather Carmichael Olson, Ph.D., University of Washington School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit, GG-20, Seatle, WA 98195.