Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can have deleterious consequences for the fetus, including changes in central nervous system development leading to permanent neurologic alterations and cognitive and behavioral deficits. Individuals affected by prenatal alcohol exposure, including those with and without fetal alcohol syndrome, are identified under the umbrella of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). While studies of humans and animal models confirm that even low to moderate levels of exposure can have detrimental effects, critical doses of such exposure have yet to be specified and the most clinically significant and consistent consequences occur following heavy exposure. These consequences are pervasive, devastating, and can result in long-term dysfunction. This chapter summarizes the neurobehavioral, neurologic, and neuroimaging characteristics of FASD, focusing primarily on clinical research of individuals with histories of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure, although studies of lower levels of exposure, particularly prospective, longitudinal studies, will be discussed where relevant.
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