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Author Notes:

Address for Correspondence: Sarah N. Mattson, Ph.D., 6330 Alvarado Court, Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92120 USA, Phone: 619-594-7228, FAX: 619-594-1895, smattson@sunstroke.sdsu.edu

We also acknowledge the efforts in data collection of Kristina Hubbard, Delilah Bolo, and Heather Holden in San Diego; Suzanne Houston, Ariel Starr, and Genevieve Rodriguez in Los Angeles; Sharron Paige-Whitaker in Atlanta; and Alfredo Aragon, Ethan White, and Stephanie Rueda in Albuquerque.


Research Funding:

Research described in this paper was supported by NIAAA grant numbers U01 AA014834 (Mattson), U24 AA014811 (Riley), U24 AA014818 (Barnett), and U24 AA014815 (Jones).

Additional support was provided by NIAAA grants U01/R01 AA011685 (May) and R01 AA015134 (May).

All or part of this work was done in conjunction with the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD), which is funded by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA). Additional information about CIFASD can be found at www.cifasd.org.


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Substance Abuse
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • Psychopathology
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
  • Attention-Deficit
  • Hyperactivity Disorder
  • ADHD
  • LIFE

The Effects of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder on Psychopathology and Behavior

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Journal Title:

Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research


Volume 37, Number 3


, Pages 507-516

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Background: This study examined prevalence of psychiatric disorders and behavioral problems in children with and without prenatal alcohol exposure (AE) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Methods: Primary caregivers of 344 children (8 to 16 years, M = 12.28) completed the Computerized Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children-IV (C-DISC-4.0) and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Subjects comprised 4 groups: AE with ADHD (AE+, n = 85) and without ADHD (AE-, n = 52), and nonexposed with ADHD (ADHD, n = 74) and without ADHD (CON, n = 133). The frequency of specific psychiatric disorders, number of psychiatric disorders (comorbidity), and CBCL behavioral scores were examined using chi-square and analysis of covariance techniques. Results: Clinical groups had greater frequency of all psychiatric disorders, except for anxiety, where the AE- and CON groups did not differ. There was a combined effect of AE and ADHD on conduct disorder. For comorbidity, children with ADHD had increased psychiatric disorders regardless of AE, which did not have an independent effect on comorbidity. For CBCL scores, there were significant main effects of AE and ADHD on all scores and significant AE × ADHD interactions for Withdrawn/Depressed, Somatic Complaints, Attention, and all Summary scores. There was a combined effect of AE and ADHD on Externalizing, Total Problems, and Attention Problems. Conclusions: Findings indicate that ADHD diagnosis elevates children's risk of psychiatric diagnoses, regardless of AE, but suggest an exacerbated relation between AE and ADHD on conduct disorder and externalizing behavioral problems in children. Findings affirm a poorer behavioral prognosis for alcohol-exposed children with ADHD and suggest that more than 1 neurobehavioral profile may exist for individuals with AE.

Copyright information:

© 2012 by the Research Society on Alcoholism.

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