Neuropsychological characteristics of Italian children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Titolo: Neuropsychological characteristics of Italian children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
Autori: Aragón AS, Coriale G, Fiorentino D, Kalberg WO, Buckley D, Gossage JP, Ceccanti M, Mitchell ER, May PA.
Pubblicazione: Novembre 2008



Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) display many problems ranging from deficits in intelligence to behavioral difficulties. Thus, many studies have aimed at defining the neuropsychological characteristics of children with FASD. The current article describes the neuropsychological characteristics of Italian children with severe diagnosis within FASD and compares them with controls. It was expected that intellectual functioning, language comprehension, academic skills, and inattention/hyperactivity would discriminate children with FASD from randomly selected peers without FASD.


This article presents data from a second cohort of children examined in 2005 as part of an in-school epidemiological study of FASD in Italy. Of 80 children, 23 diagnosed with a FASD, and 57 randomly selected control children from the same first-grade classes, participated. After screening for FASD via growth and dysmorphology, the children were administered a test of general intelligence (WISC-R) as well as tests of nonverbal reasoning (Raven Colored Progressive Matrices), language comprehension (Rustioni), academic achievement (IPDA), and problem behavior (Disruptive Behavior Disorder Rating Scale).


Children diagnosed with a FASD achieved lower scores than control children on Verbal, Performance, and Full Scale IQ. Profile analysis of the WISC-R indicates overall differences between the groups. However, some intact functioning within the FASD group was found, as the Similarities and Vocabulary subtests were similar to the controls. After an alpha adjustment to 0.004, the Block Design, Object Assembly, and Mazes subtests were significantly different from controls. On tests of nonverbal reasoning, language comprehension, and academic achievement, the children with a FASD scored significantly lower. Moreover, teachers rated children with a severe diagnosis within FASD as showing more inattentive symptoms than controls, while hyperactive/impulsive characteristics among children with a FASD were comparable with the control children. Significant correlations between head circumference, child dysmorphology, WISC-R, and Raven CPM scores are also reported.


This study indicates that a sample of Italian children with a FASD, when compared with control children, display poorer functioning on measures of general intelligence, nonverbal reasoning, academic achievement, and teacher-rated problem behaviors. The findings also contribute to the formulation of a neuropsychological profile of children diagnosed with a FASD.


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