Knowledge and Resource Hub
25 September 2018

Systematic review of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder interventions across the life span

This review examined 32 studies of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) interventions across the lifespan by grouping studies according to the main treatment focus to allow comparisons of effectiveness. The vast majority of studies targeted early to middle childhood. There was mixed evidence for effectiveness in early infancy. However there was growing evidence for interventions that improve outcomes for early to middle childhood. Studies that focused on improving self-regulation and attentional control in early to middle childhood provided strong evidence for gains, demonstrated by improvement using parent/caregiver report, neuropsychological testing, and magnetic resonance imaging scans. However, as the studies did not include, or only had a limited follow-up, the extent to which such changes are enduring has not been established. There is a lack of research on the effectiveness of interventions outside of this developmental period. This lack of research is concerning given the potential positive impact of early intervention, for individuals and, financially, for governments. Furthermore, the lack of interventions for adolescents and adults further highlights the widening developmental gap and the potential influence of secondary disabilities for this at-risk population.