Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and associated disorders are a major cause of lifelong developmental and behavioral disabilities. Maternal alcohol use during gestation produces dysmorphology, growth deficits and impacts the nervous system in ways that are not yet fully understood. Despite the need for accurate, databased information on the long-term effects of this teratogen, empirical research on adaptive functioning and neurocognition in alcohol-exposed and affected adults is still very limited. The proposed research will follow a well-characterized sample (N=275), part of a cohort identified prenatally between 1980 and 1986 based on maternal alcohol use during pregnancy, into early adulthood in order to describe their current functioning and to evaluate neurocognitive status. These outcomes will be correlated with the results of neuroimaging in a subsample (n=120) of individuals demonstrating behavioral effects of prenatal exposure. Previous research with this low socioeconomic status (SES), predominantly African-American cohort has demonstrated a pattern of neurodevelopmental deficits consistent with the hypothesis that alcohol exposure may have affected white matter tracts in the brain at both macrostructural and microstructural levels and that deficits related to such alterations may be associated with specific neurobehavioral outcomes. Using structural and functional MRI protocols and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), we will evaluate a series of hypotheses that prenatally exposed individuals demonstrating neuropsychological deficits relative to controls, matched for SES and disability status, will show measurable differences in brain structure and in indices of white matter integrity. A longitudinal follow-up portion of the study will examine social, adaptive and neuropsychological outcomes in alcohol-exposed and affected young adults and compare results to those of SES matched controls who have also been followed longitudinally and to members of a special education contrast group recruited during adolescence. A subsample of alcohol-affected individuals and controls will be selected for neuroimaging at 3T to evaluate effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on macrostructure, microstructure and function. We anticipate that these techniques will provide insight into the teratogenic effects of alcohol exposure on development as well as the relationship between white matter integrity and neuropsychological functioning in this disorder. ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Biobehavioral and Behavioral Processes 3 (BBBP)
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Foudin, Laurie L
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Emory University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Lynch, Mary Ellen; Kable, Julie A; Coles, Claire D (2017) Effects of prenatal alcohol exposure in a prospective sample of young adults: Mental health, substance use, and difficulties with the legal system. Neurotoxicol Teratol 64:50-62
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