Friday, November 20, 2009

Socializing kids with prenatal alcohol exposure

The first thing that struck me about this article in Science Daily is that what I am used to calling fetal alcohol syndrome is now being called prenatal alcohol exposure. So instead of emphasizing the condition of a person, they now emphasize the cause of the condition. It is as though instead of saying someone had a burn, we said they had been exposed to great heat. It's true, but it's not what I mean when I say someone or something was burned, and one doesn't necessarily follow from the other. As I understand it, there are periods in pregnancy when exposure to alcohol has serious effects on a fetus and periods when it does not. (You just can't know which was which until you can examine the baby.) So a kid that was prenataly exposed to alcohol may or may not have symptoms I would call fetal alcohol syndrome.

That said, the content of the study is very interesting. It seems kids exposed to prenatal alcohol misread social cues and frequently think people are hostile to them when they are not (another biological influence on behavior). In this study of 50 subjects and 50 controls, ages 6 to 12, those who got Children's Friendship Training less frequently falsely thought other kids were being hostile to them.

I hope it's replicated. It's always nice when someone figures out how to make a few people's lives better.

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