Alcohol in Pregnancy Can Set Kids Up For Poor Social Skills


Adding to the list of dangers that come from prenatal exposure to alcohol, new research shows that a child's social skills can be severely impacted if mom drinks during pregnancy.

The study, published in Child Neuropsychology, found that children with prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) who don't have an intellectual disability are at high risk for emotional, behavioral and social problems that could significantly impact their quality of life.

PAE and broad range of problems

Studying 125 children between the ages of 6 and 12, researchers found that children who had PAE scored much lower on tests of executive functioning (the processes that help with organization and planning), linguistic abstraction, emotional/behavioral functioning, attention, visuospatial memory and social cognition.

In assessing how children interpreted hostile behavior, kids with PAE were also more likely to see non-threatening action (like being told "no") as provocative behavior. Kids who were not exposed to alcohol, on the other hand, tended to only see physical action (like pushing or shoving) as provocative or hostile.

Learning problems

The PAE children were also more likely to have issues at school, according to parents and teachers. The results suggested that using IQ to gauge academic expectations could be misleading when dealing with PAE children, and that the effects of PAE will be manifested despite levels of IQ or intelligence.

A statement on the study conludes:

The results mean it is becoming increasingly more evident that there is a pressing need for early identification of social issues related to prenatal alcohol exposure and intervention in order to take advantage of the developing brain's plasticity and to maximize the likelihood of effecting meaningful functional improvement.

Source: Taylor and Francis

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