An examination of the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on school-age children in a Manitoba First Nation Community, a study of fetal alcohol syndrome prevalence and dysmorphology

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Kowlessar, Debra L.
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A cross-sectional survey was conducted in one First Nation Community in Manitoba to determine the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) among 178 school-aged children (ages 5 years to 15 years). The study consisted of four parts: a maternal interview, where mothers were questioned about family dynamics, pregnancy and family histories, as well as alcohol use during pregnancy using the TWEAK screening questionnaire; review of the child's birth records, to confirm alcohol exposures reported by the mother; Dysmorphology assessment by a clinical geneticist; and psychoeducational testing by a trained retired teacher. The geneticist and teacher were blind to the alcohol exposure status of each child at the time of assessment. The dysmorphology parameters which differ significantly between the alcohol exposed and unexposed groups are: decreased height, weight, head circumference and palpebral fissure lengths, and midface hypoplasia. Growth parameter data of the "Normal" category of school-aged children were used to generate standard Native growth curves for school-aged children from this community. These curves were compared to the preexisting curves in the literature, primarily derived using Caucasian data, and showed significant differences between the two populations. With respect to postnatal growth, Native children from this community tend to be heavier, taller, have larger head circumferences, longer fingers, and more widely spaced eyes than their Caucasian counterparts. Comparison of the FAS and Partial FAS children with the Native curves, increased the number of children that would be considered "classic" FAS cases, as opposed to comparisons against Caucasian standards. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)