Studies examine fetal alcohol syndrome in South Africa

August 28, 2013 by Steve Carr

Two recently published studies report prevalence data about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in South Africa and find that negative consequences of prenatal exposure to alcohol may be lessened if a child is provided with adequate nutrition and appropriate cognitive and behavioral stimulation in his or her first seven years of life.

Dr. Philip A. May, faculty member at the University of North Carolina's Nutrition Research Institute (NRI), research professor of nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and Principal Investigator at the University of New Mexico's Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA), is lead author of both papers.

At the NRI, May is conducting a comprehensive study of South African mothers and their children who are affected by FASD. The work is funded through a $5.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The study, titled "Approaching the Prevalence of the Full Spectrum of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in a South African Population-Based Study," appeared in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

"This is the first population-based study of the prevalence of FASD to diagnose a significant number of alcohol-related disabilities, which are at the mild end of the continuum," Dr. May said of the study. Employing newly refined diagnostic criteria, the researchers were able to better indicate the scope of the problem. "There is evidence of advances in diagnosis of the milder effects of alcohol exposure in the prenatal period," Dr. May said. "The rate of FASD is greater than we ever thought in ."

In "Maternal Factors Predicting Cognitive and Behavioral Characteristics of Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders," which appeared in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics in June, May and his colleagues found evidence that good health and nutrition of the pregnant mother provides her child with an advantage for cognitive and behavioral development by age seven. "In the first seven years of life environmental advantages of cognitive and behavioral stimulation and can, in many cases, serve to minimize any negative consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure on the children's social, behavioral, and intellectual functioning," May said.

The NIAAA grant is funding a study for children as young as 12 months to improve their development with nutritional supplements and a regimen of cognitive and behavioral interventions.

"There is hope that a good postnatal environment in the early years of life can mitigate some, if not most, of the damage that occurs from in the prenatal period," May said.

Explore further: Delayed auditory processing found in fetal alcohol syndrome

Related Stories

Delayed auditory processing found in fetal alcohol syndrome

October 5, 2012
(HealthDay)—Preschool children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) display delays in auditory processing, which may serve as a useful neural marker of information processing difficulties, according to research published ...

Functional neurologic abnormalities due to prenatal alcohol exposure are common

July 23, 2012
Most children who are exposed to large amounts of alcohol while in the womb do not go on to develop fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Instead, problems that arise fall under a broader term that describes a spectrum of adverse ...

Computer-delivered intervention for alcohol use during pregnancy

October 26, 2011
A team of researchers at Wayne State University's Parent Health Lab in the School of Medicine have received a three-year grant to develop a computer-delivered intervention for pregnant women at risk for alcohol use, which ...

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy affects learning and memory function in offspring?

July 19, 2013
Maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy has detrimental effects on fetal central nervous system development.

Recommended for you

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

Findings link aldosterone with alcohol use disorder

July 18, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute ...

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017
A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

July 7, 2017
One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are ...

Researchers say U.S. policies on drugs and addiction could use a dose of neuroscience

June 23, 2017
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year – around 50,000 in 2015 – and the number has been steadily climbing for at least the last decade and a half, according to the National Institute on Drug ...

Study provides further support for genetic factors underlying addictions

June 13, 2017
Impairment of a particular gene raises increases susceptibility to opioid addiction liability as well as vulnerability to binge eating according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.