CIFASD-III at Atlanta:

A Multisite Neurobehavioral Assessment of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)

Project Description

Atlanta’s  Multisite Neurobehavioral Assessment of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders project is part of large network of sites throughout the country working to identify core diagnostic features of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders that differentiate this disorder from typically developing children as well as children with other disorders.
The goal is to develop clinically relevant and feasible measurement tools to accurately identify children who are affected by prenatal alcohol exposure. This study builds on an existing database derived from data collected from children between 8-16 years of age, across multiple clinical sites throughout the world. Two age groups (5-7 years and 10-16 years) will be recruited. Data will be collected from children with prenatal alcohol exposure, non-exposed controls and heterogeneous clinical contrast subjects. This research will improve our understanding of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) by continuing ongoing efforts to develop and refine a sensitive and specific neurobehavioral profile. These data will be combined with data from other CIFASD projects to develop models that accurately capture the greatest number of affected children using multidisciplinary methodology.  Some participants also may be asked to participate in two additional components of the CIFASD project: Neuroimaging and Genetics.
Neuroimaging  Substudy: Atlanta’s  Multisite Neurobehavioral Assessment of FASDs
The neuroimaging component is looking at brain connectivity in FASDs and long-term development of the brain. Participants are asked to have two neuroimaging scans over a two year period to assess changes in brain development. The goal of this project is to determine if innovative techniques can be used to identify brain alterations, neurobehavioral deficits and facial characteristics and relationships between these variables to help further define/diagnose prenatal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).
Genetic Substudy: Atlanta’s  Multisite Neurobehavioral Assessment of FASDs
The genetic component of the CIFASD project is designed to extend preliminary genetic studies through collection of DNA samples from saliva. The goal is to further evaluate candidate genes identified in the basic science components of the CIFASD project.

Quick Facts about the CIFASD-III Study in Atlanta

  • Children either 5-7 or 10-16 years of age are eligible.
  • The child will participate in a comprehensive neurodevelopmental assessment, including assessments of their:
    • Intellectual development
    • Executive functioning skills
    • Memory functioning
    • Learning skills
    • Behavioral functioning
  • Children will receive a physical assessment by a pediatrician.
  • Children will have a 3-D photograph take on their face.
  • Parents and Caregivers are an important part of the CIFASD-III assessment and will complete questionnaires and interviews regarding their child’s functioning.
  • Participants may also be asked to also contribute saliva for genetic assessments.
  • Participants may also be asked to undergo two neuroimaging scans over the course of two years.
  • We are still enrolling volunteer families to participate in the program.
  • Participants are compensated for their time.

The project is funded by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol-Abuse (NIAAA). It is located in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA.

Project Staff
Principle Investigator:  Julie A. Kable, Ph.D.
Principle Investigator (Neuroimaging Subcomponent): Claire D. Coles
Outreach Coordinator: Sharron Paige (404) 712 9818
Testing: Shital Gaitonde, Ph.D., Chelsea Oswald

How you can be part of the CIFASD-III Study?  If you are interested in volunteering to be part of CIFASD-III, you can call Sharron Paige at 404 712 9818.

For more information on the CIFASD project activities throughout the world, see

Emory Teen Imaging Study

Emory Teen Imaging Study

Project Description:

The Teen Imaging Study is in its inaugural year of a five year longitudinal follow-up of subjects who participated in previous studies (Neurobehavioral Effects of Prenatal Cocaine Exposure, Emory Infant Development Study, & The Emory Child Development Study) from 1987-1989 and 1992-1994. The primary goal of the Teen Imaging Study is to understand how prenatal exposure to cocaine affects the development of adolescents. The researchers will assess psychological development and brain functioning in pre-teenagers/teenagers who were exposed to cocaine, and those who were not through the use of a procedure called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Pictures of how the brain works will be taken at this session.

Quick facts about the Teen Imaging Study:

" Testing began January 2005.
" Study is unique in its use of an MRI to determine how prenatal cocaine exposure (CE) affects the brain.
" Extends the current research by examining the developmental effects on behavior and emotional functioning in adolescence that may be related to prenatal CE.
" The imaging results will provide further understanding of the behavioral functioning of these adolescents.

Sessions include:

" Evaluations: tests of thinking and attention, a medical evaluation
" Interview session regarding current life situation, behavior, and adjustment.
" A brain imaging session at Emory University Hospital.


The project is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH-NIDA). It is a joint project of the Biomedical Imaging Technology Center and the Emory University School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Project Staff:

Principal Investigator: Xiaoping P. Hu, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigators: Claire D. Coles, Ph.D., Stephan Hamann, Ph.D., Stephen LaConte, Ph.D, Scott Peltier, Ph.D.,
Co-Investigators: Felicia Goldstein, Ph.D., Mary Ellen Lynch, Ph.D., Kathleen Platzman, Ph.D.,
Research Coordinator: Zakiya Grant
Outreach Staff: Tuesday Means
Medical Staff: Jill Mast, M.S., R.N.
Testing Staff: Phillip Stepka M.S., Christy Hall, Ph.D.
Imaging Staff: Zhihao Li, Ph.D.

Emory Language Development Study

Emory Language Development Study

Project Description:

This is a prospective, longitudinal study of the impact of prenatal tobacco exposure on child development. In order to examine the developmental consequences of gestational tobacco use, this multidisciplinary study investigates the relationship between prenatal tobacco use, auditory processing, phonetic development and language in children over the course the first two years of their development. Research participants are recruited from the postpartum units at Northside and Emory Crawford Long Hospitals, in Atlanta, Georgia and followed until 24 months. Laboratory visits are planned at three time points, 6-, 15- and 24 months and a home visit at the 15-month follow-up.

During follow up visits infants and mothers participate in a series of tests where multiple measures of early language development are examined with attention to the relationship of auditory processing at 6-, 15- and 24-months to the various indicators of language, specifically, phonological expression and reception, and global language development.


This project is funded by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institute of Health, Washington, D.C.

Project Staff:

Principal Investigator: Claire D. Coles, Ph.D.

Co-Investigators: Julie Kable, Ph.D., Mary Ellen Lynch, Ph.D., Theresa Gauthier, MD., Kathleen Platzman, Ph.D., Laura Namy, Ph.D.

Language Analysis Subcontract (Georgia State University: Mary Ann Romski, Ph.D., Roger Bakeman, Ph.D.

Project Coordinator: Julie Carroll, MSW

Outreach Coordinator: Montinique Pierre.

Outreach Staff: Nancy Warren, Lauren Poor

Medical Staff: Jill Mast, M.S., R.N.

Testing Staff: Julie Kable, Ph.D., Kathleen Platzman, Ph.D., Christy Hall, Ph.D., Katrina Johnson, MA, Josephine Brown, Ph.D.

Adult Assessment Project