Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] pp526-sebu-375648 July 15, 2002 17:29 Style ﬁle version June 4th, 2002
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 14, No. 4, October 2002 (
Some Implications of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure
for the Treatment of Adolescents With Sexual
Prenatal alcohol exposure can seriously harm the fetus, resulting in a wide range
of physical and central nervous system abnormalities. A follow-up study of per-
sons prenatally exposed to alcohol found that 49% of adolescents and adults had
repeatedly displayed inappropriate sexual behavior. While these persons are likely
to present to sexualoffender treatment programs,they are unlikely to be recognized
as neurologically impaired because the sequelae of prenatal alcohol exposure are
seldom accurately identiﬁed by clinicians. Persistent impairments in response in-
hibition, memory, and executive functions are common, requiring adaptations to
standard sexual offender assessment and treatment.
KEY WORDS: prenatal alcohol exposure; neuropsychological disability; assessment/treatment
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), ﬁrst clinically recognized by Lemoine and
colleagues in 1968, and named by Smith and Lyon Jones in 1973 (Streissguth,
1997), refers to a cluster of effects caused by prenatal exposure of the fetus to
alcohol. This cluster of features, unique to FAS, comprises prenatal or postnatal
growth deﬁciency, characteristic facial features, including short palpebral ﬁssures
(eyeopenings), a ﬂat midface with a short upturned nose, a smooth or long philtrum
(the area between the nose and mouth) and a thin upper lip, and some central ner-
vous system (CNS) abnormalities (Streissguth, 1997). The speciﬁc nature of the
CNS abnormalities varies from person to person (Steinhausen & Spohr, 1998).
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at P.O. Box 31270, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory,
Canada Y1A 5P7.
2002 Plenum Publishing Corporation