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Fetal Alcohol Disorders in ADHD Clothing

Posted Jul 21 2009 12:18am

Many of you have followed–and been outraged by–the “breastfeeding while drunk” case.

But we all know that being drunk while pregnant is a gigantic “no-no”. A new study shows that fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are often misdiagnosed as ADHD. Both disorders have a number of similar symptoms: very limited attention, physical restlessness and extreme impulsivity.

But in some ways, FASD seems to be a bit more like another spectrum disorder: ASD. And now a study from the University of Toronto claim that we’re confusing disorders.

Sufferers of fetal alcohol disorders have a problems distinguishing social cues and processing emotions. They are certainly not “just like” those with autism spectrum disorder, but they seem to be somewhere in the middle of children with ADHD and those with ASD.

And that can be a problem, say researchers, because we end up treating their problems improperly.Study author Jane Rovet had this:

Our findings show that … overall, children with FASD have more severe behavioral problems. In terms of social cognition and emotional processing, the core deficit in FASD appears to be in understanding and interpreting another’s mental states and emotions…

It is imperative that these children receive assistance in social and emotional processing domains, specifically targeting interventions to deal with their unique deficits.

Researchers closely studied three groups of children: 33 children with FASD, 30 children with ADHD and 34 children considered “normal controls” and focused on their social cognition and emotion-processing abilities. They found that children with FASD exhibited issues with social cognition, which could perhaps lead to other problems, especially in the social behavior realm.

The study appears online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and will be in print in October.


Image: Remko van Dokkum on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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