Intrauterine alcohol and nicotine exposure: attention and reaction time in four-year-old children

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Developmental Psychology




452 4-yr-old children whose mothers had been interviewed during pregnancy regarding alcohol, smoking, and drug use were examined with a computer-controlled vigilance task to assess attention and RT. Multiple regression analyses were used to permit testing of alcohol and nicotine effects after adjusting for the S's birth order, maternal education, nutrition, and caffeine (and alcohol or nicotine, whichever was relevant). Maternal alcohol use during early pregnancy was significantly related to poor attention (more errors of omission and more errors of commission) and longer RT. Maternal cigarette use was significantly related to poor attention and poor orientation to the display board. Results support the hypothesis that both alcohol use (even in the absence of self-reported problems with alcohol abuse) and cigarette use by pregnant women are related to poorer attention in preschool age offspring, even when adjusting for a variety of potentially confounding variables. (33 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)