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Attention: Prenatal alcohol and continuities of vigilance and attentional problems from 4 through 14 years

  • Ann P. Streissguth (a1), Fred L. Bookstein (a2), Paul D. Sampson (a3) and Helen M. Barr (a1)

Abstract

This study examined the longitudinal components of vigilance performance and attentional behaviors across the ages of 4, 7, and 14 years of life as they relate to prenatal alcohol exposure assessed by maternal self-report in midpregnancy for a cohort of 512 children. The vigilance score most salient for prenatal alcohol across this 10-year developmental period was Standard Deviation of Reaction Time (SDRT). Also salient were False Alarms (FA) on the AX task, impulsive errors reflecting difficulty in withholding a response. All 19 of the children with poorest scores on a Vigilance Latent Variable (LV) at 14 years had scored low on a similarly-defined Vigilance LV at age 7 years. Cross-lagged correlations revealed that the 7-year Vigilance LV not only predicted second-grade teacher ratings of attention a year later (r = – .38), but also predicted fourth-fifth-grade teacher ratings of attention (r = – .36). These data reveal considerable consistency across time in the impact of prenatal alcohol on child/adolescent vigilance performance and attention between 4 and 14 years of age.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Ann P. Streissguth, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Box 359112, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.

References

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