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Dr. Streissguth's research focuses on elucidating, detecting, and preventing the long-term neuropsychological consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). She and colleagues have demonstrated a broad array of attentional, memory, learning, and neurobehavioral effects of prenatal alcohol exposure from birth to adulthood through an ongoing 30-year prospective longitudinal study of a large population-based birth cohort.
Streissguth’s group has developed innovative methods of quantifying brain images to detect adolescents and adults with prenatal alcohol-related brain anomalies with over 80% accuracy. Their latest work reports preliminary evidence that prenatal alcohol damage may be visible in averaged ultrasound images of the neonatal human corpus callosum. They have also shown that environmental risk and protective factors can exacerbate or attenuate "secondary disabilities" (such as disrupted school experiences and trouble with the law) in adolescents and adults with FASD. An early diagnosis and a stable nurturing home are the strongest protective factors against secondary disabilities. Streissguth and colleagues have developed public health solutions to these problems, including a successful parent-child assistance program at six sites in Washington State.
CHDD Outlook article on brain distinctions in persons with FASD (Summer 2005, page 3)
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