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Developmental delay of infants and young children with and without fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa

L Davies
M Dunn
M Chersich
M Urban
C Chetty
L Olivier
D Viljoen


Objective: To describe the extent and nature of developmental delay at different stages in childhood in a community in South Africa, with a known high rate of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Method: A cohort of infants, clinically examined for FASD at two time periods, 7-12 months (N= 392; 45 FASD) and 17-21 months of age (N= 83, 35 FASD) were assessed using the Griffiths Mental Developmental Scales (GMDS). Results: Infants and children with FASD perform worse than their Non-FASD counterparts over all scales and total developmental quotients. Mean quotients for both groups decline between assessments across subscales with a particularly marked decline in the hearing and language scale at Time 2 (scores dropping from 110.6 to 83.1 in the Non-FASD group and 106.3 to 72.7 in the FASD group; P=0.004). By early childhood the developmental gap between the groups widens with low maternal education, maternal depression, high parity and previous loss of sibling/s influencing development during early childhood. Conclusion: The FASD group show more evidence of developmental delay over both time points compared to their Non-FASD counterparts. Demographic and socio-economic factors further impact early childhood. These findings are important in setting up primary level psycho-educational and national prevention programmes especially in periurban communities with a focus on early childhood development and FASD.

Keywords: Developmental Delay; Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS); Griffiths Mental Developmental Scales (GMDS)

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eISSN: 1994-8220