The contribution of the Neurobehavioral Screening Tool to identifying fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in children at high risk of prenatal alcohol exposure and neurobehavioral deficits

Dana Ronen, Yehuda Senecky, Gabriel Chodick, Esther Ganelin-Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) describe various conditions resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure. The diagnosis of FASD can be challenging and complex. The Neurobehavioral Screening Tool (NST), derived from Achenbach's Child Behavior Checklist, has been suggested as a tool for identifying FASD. Aims: To assess the external validity of the NST and to identify additional characteristics of FASD in a cohort of Israeli children and young adults referred to a neurology and child developmental clinic at a tertiary pediatric medical center in Israel. Study design: An observational study based on medical records. Subjects: 151 children and young adults, of whom 40 were diagnosed with FASD according to updated clinical guidelines. Outcome measures: NST results, as well as demographic and neurobehavioral variables, were compared between those who were and were not diagnosed with FASD. Results: The NST demonstrated 72 % to 73 % sensitivity, and 34 % to 36 % specificity, in identifying FASD. Items 4 and 5 (‘Lies or cheats’, ‘Lacks guilt after misbehaving’) were the most predictive items in the NST. Other variables that were characteristic of the FASD group included: emotional regulation difficulties (p value <0.01), being born and adopted in Israel (vs. other countries) (p value <0.01) and younger age at the first visit to the clinic (p value <0.01). Conclusions: Our findings regarding the screening capabilities of the NST were less promising than those of most previous studies. Further research is needed to establish a valid neurobehavioral tool with the possible focus on antisocial behaviors and emotional regulation problems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105608
JournalEarly Human Development
Volume170
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
  • Neurobehavioral Screening Tool
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal alcohol exposure

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