Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder: Identifying the neurobehavioural phenotype and effective interventions

Gideon Koren, Irene Zelner, Kelly Nash, Gal Koren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Since the first description of the foetal damage of alcohol in 1967, numerous studies have outlined different aspects of neurodevelopmental dysfunction, adversely affecting the lives of children worldwide. Although the cause of the syndrome is sorted out, the pathogenesis of brain damage is far from being clear. In contrast to children exhibiting the full facial dysmorphology, who are relatively easy to diagnose, in those presenting only with alcohol-related neurodevelopmental damage diagnosis is much more challenging due to poor specificity of the brain dysfunction. Hence, identifying the neurodevelopmental phenotype of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a major challenge. RECENT FINDINGS: Recently, a behavioural phenotype of FASD has been described and validated using items from the Child Behaviour Checklist. This tool has high sensitivity and specificity in separating children with FASD from those with ADHD and from healthy controls. In parallel, a number of intervention studies show promise in improving the abilities of children and adolescents with the syndrome to cope with daily tasks and improve their quality of life. SUMMARY: The neurobehavioural screening test can facilitate screening for FASD and is an official screening tool in the FASD toolkit of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Promising new interventions may attenuate the long-term outcome of these children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-104
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • child behaviour checklist
  • foetal alcohol spectrum disorder
  • foetal alcohol spectrum disorder neurobehavioural phenotype
  • intervention studies
  • school for foetal alcohol spectrum disorder children


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