Examining delinquency in adolescents differentially prenatally exposed to alcohol: the role of proximal and distal risk factors. Lynch ME. Coles CD. Corley T. Falek A. Journal of Studies on Alcohol. 64(5):678-86, 2003 Sep.
OBJECTIVE: An association has been reported between prenatal alcohol exposure and delinquent behavior in adolescents. Problems are believed to be particularly significant for those who were exposed prenatally but do not have full fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The goals of this study were (1) to examine the relation between a range oflevels of prenatal exposure and delinquent behavior in a community sample and (2) to examine the effect of other current risk factors, in addition to prenatal exposure, on delinquent behavior. METHOD: In this study, 250 low income, predominantly black youths (mean age = 15.1 years) and their primary caregivers participated in an evaluation that included measures of delinquency, life stress, substance use, behavior problems, parenting practices, negative peer influence, caregiver substance use and the dysmorphia characteristic of FAS. Three groups were drawn from a sample initially seen at birth: Alcohol-exposed and dysmorphic (n = 39), alcohol-exposed, nondysmorphic (n = 77) and nonexposed controls (n = 48). A special education contrast group (n = 84) was recruited at adolescence to control for disability status. RESULTS: The exposure groups did not differ from controls on measures of variety and frequency of delinquent behavior; boys engaged in a wider range of delinquent acts than girls did. Regression analysis for the full sample revealed that higher adolescent life stress, higher self-reported drug use and lower parental supervision were significantly related to a wider range of delinquent acts. CONCLUSIONS: Other current influences should be considered in addition to prenatal alcohol exposure in interpreting the development of delinquency in alcohol-exposed adolescents. These results demonstrate the importance of examining risk factors and controlling effects of sociocultural influences and disability status when working with clinical samples.
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