Author(s): Schonfeld AM, Mattson SN, Lang AR, Delis DC, Riley EP
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: Executive function deficits, including verbal fluency, have been documented in children with histories of prenatal alcohol exposure. Whereas nonverbal fluency impairments have been reported in adults with such exposure, these abilities have not been tested in children. Deficits in both verbal and nonverbal fluency were predicted and assessed in children and adolescents with histories of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure. METHOD: There was a total of 28 (54\% female) subjects; children with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure with (n = 10) and without (n = 8) fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) were compared to nonexposed controls (n = 10) on the design and verbal fluency measures from the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System. Both fluency measures consist of three conditions, including a new set-shifting task. All tests require the generation of multiple responses within both rule and time constraints. RESULTS: Data were analyzed using repeated measures analyses of variance and hierarchical regression analyses. Compared to controls, children with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure with and without FAS displayed deficits in both fluency domains, but did not differ from each other. In addition, prenatal alcohol exposure was a significant predictor of performance on the set-shifting design fluency task above and beyond performance on more traditional fluency tasks. IQ was not a significant predictor for the traditional or set-shifting fluency measures, whereas diagnostic group remained a significant predictor when IQ was included in the model. CONCLUSIONS: This study adds to the literature on the integrity of executive functions in children with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure, documenting fluency impairment in both verbal and nonverbal domains. It is important to note that these impairments were demonstrated in higher functioning alcohol-exposed children, both with and without FAS, and that diagnostic group explained such deficiencies above and beyond general intellectual ability.
This article was published in J Stud Alcohol
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy