Children at age five, who are affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol are still in concrete operations. At that time in the life of my family members, our children were precocious, fun-loving, creative and energetic despite the fact that one child dealt with huge attachment and sensory issues which overshadowed her reality until she was over twelve years old and another had suffered two strokes before age eight months.
If IQ testing is given during early elementary years the results will be based on concrete operations. When IQ testing is given after age ten, abstract thinking begins playing a larger part in the scoring criteria. Professionals missed her diagnosis until she was two years passed the time of entry into abstract thinking and if we had known earlier we could have supported skill building in additional ways. From ages 6 to 17 our daughter lost 30 IQ points - she was not growing less intelligent, she was unable to gain abstraction. Even as an adult, her world remains in concrete operations.
At age ten, (fourth grade is often the time) life and education moves into abstraction. It is during this phase of childhood we see increased raging and/or shut down as they try to navigate a world quickly becoming unreachable. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is a lifetime choice you do not have to make to create additional challenges for the persons who must live with it. For researchers to make a statement with preschoolers without the additional data that may be forthcoming at ages 10, 15, 20, and 25 is unfair to the hundreds of thousands of people living with this hidden disability. Let's hope the media does not spin this out of control - let's hope we continue to stand for do no harm.
May the best continue to be our best...
Please read the letter I received from CDC.
As you recall, in October 2011, the first paper from the Lifestyle During Pregnancy Study, “Low to moderate alcohol intake during pregnancy and risk of psychomotor deficits,” was released in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (ACER). This paper was the first to be published on the findings from the Lifestyle Study, designed to examine alcohol use and neurobehavioral effects in children (sampled from the Danish National Birth Cohort and funded by CDC and the Danish Research Council). Although the first paper examined motor function in five-year-old children whose mothers reported drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy and found no effect, our message continues to be that women should refrain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
Today, five additional papers from the Lifestyle During Pregnancy Study were released electronically in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Findings from these analyses again suggest no serious effects on three specific neurodevelopmental functions in five-year-old children whose mothers drank low to moderate amounts of alcohol in pregnancy. However, because no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy has been established and alcohol is known to cause birth defects and developmental disabilities as well as other adverse pregnancy outcomes, advice continues to be that women should refrain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. We know that FASDs are 100% preventable if alcohol is not consumed during pregnancy, so why take the risk?
We have listed the citations and abstracts below and encourage you to read the articles. We are also adding a “Key Findings” summary to our website which discusses the findings. You will be able to find this shortly on our FASD home page at www.cdc.gov/fasd.
Please let us know if you have questions or would like to discuss further.
US Center for Disease Control
References/Abstracts for BJOG articles (2012):
Falgreen Eriksen H-L, Mortensen EL, Kilburn T, Underbjerg M, Bertrand J, Støvring H, Wimberley T, Grove J, Kesmodel US. The effects of low to moderate prenatal alcohol exposure in early pregnancy on IQ in 5- year-old children. BJOG 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03394.x
Kesmodel US, Falgreen Eriksen H-L, Underbjerg M, Kilburn TR, Støvring H, Wimberley T, Mortensen EL. The effect of alcohol binge drinking in early pregnancy on general intelligence in children. BJOG 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03395.x
Underbjerg M, Kesmodel US, Landrø NI, Bakketeig L, Grove J, Wimberley T, Kilburn TR, Sværke C, Thorsen P, Mortensen EL. The effects of low to moderate alcohol consumption and binge drinking in early pregnancy on selective and sustained attention in 5-year-old children. BJOG 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03396.x
Skogerbø Å, Kesmodel US, Wimberley T, Støvring H, Bertrand J, Landrø NI, Mortensen EL. The effects of low to moderate alcohol consumption and binge drinking in early pregnancy on executive function in 5-year-old children. BJOG 2012; DOI 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03397.x
Kesmodel US, Bertrand J, Støvring H, Skarpness B, Denny CH, Mortensen EL, and the Lifestyle During Pregnancy Study Group.* The effect of different alcohol drinking patterns in early to mid pregnancy on the child’s intelligence, attention, and executive function. BJOG 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03393.x
*The Lifestyle During Pregnancy Study Group
Bakketeig LS, Boyle CA, Cogswell ME, Falgreen Eriksen H-L, Grove J, Kilburn T, Landrø NI, Skogerbø Å, Underbjerg M, Wimberley T