The Neurodevelopmental Consequences of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Elizabeth Welch-Carre, RN, MSN, NNP


Adv Neonatal Care. 2005;5(4):217-229. 

In This Article

Impact of the Diagnosis

The sooner early intervention services begin the better, particularly for the child who does not exhibit the typical face of FAS.[1] Once diagnosed, families will be better able to care for their child.[1,18] That said, there is little that can prepare a family for how difficult raising a child with PAE can be. See Sidebar: A Personal Story - Raising a Child With ARND, for a personal account of parenting a child with FAS.

At the time of the intensive care nursery admission, the long-term implications of PAE may seem remote and irrelevant to many presenting parents. Families will want to believe that once the acute health problem is addressed, their child will be a typical rather than a special-needs child. As difficult as it may be for the healthcare providers to say, and for the families to hear, the impact of PAE needs to be clearly explained and reiterated over time.[1] It is imperative that parents understand that neurological damage attributable to PAE is permanent. Even infants who appear alert and morphologically normal may develop neurodevelopmental disorders attributable to PAE.

As advocates and positive role models, parents can lessen the degree of secondary disabilities for their child.[1,18] They can protect their child from harm, utilize early intervention services, provide a constructive means for their child to express frustration and anger, remain calm during temper tantrums, and work with the school system to ensure that their child has a positive educational experience.[21,71]


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