Math Performance and Behavior Problems in Children Affected by Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: Intervention and Follow-Up


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Abstract

Objective:Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), resulting from maternal alcohol use during pregnancy, are associated with significant academic and behavior problems. Although affected children are common in clinical practice, information to guide recommendations about interventions with this high risk group is very limited. This study evaluated the persistence of effects of an intervention on the math performance and behavior of 54 children, 3- to 10-years, diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome or FASD.Methods:Children were randomly assigned to a 6-week Math intervention (n = 28) tailored to this clinical group or to a standard psychoeducational contrast group (n = 26). All caregivers received identical educational interventions to promote learning readiness and improve behavioral outcomes. In a previous study, participants were assessed before interventions and immediately following completion. In this follow-up study, participants were recontacted and reassessed at 6 months post completion to determine if positive results on math functioning and child behavior would persist after treatment discontinuation.Results:Focus was on 2 outcomes: (1) Math performance, assessed using standardized measures of math achievement and (2) Behavior problems as reported by caregivers on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and teachers on the Teacher Report Form (TRF). Experimental-group participants demonstrated significantly greater scores on math outcome measures than Contrast group members and CBCL and TRF behavior was improved over pretest scores in both groups.Conclusion:This 6-month follow-up confirms that both math skills and behavior of alcohol-affected children are improved significantly by interventions designed to meet their specific learning and behavior needs.

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