Development and Evaluation of a Preventive Intervention for Children FASD

Principal Investigator

Christie Petrenko, Ph.D.


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Dr. Christie Petrenko’s long-term goal is to establish a productive program of research focusing on the prevention of adverse outcomes (e.g., mental health problems, trouble with the law, substance use) in children with prenatal alcohol exposure. As outlined in her Career Development Plan, a multidisciplinary team of experts will provide her with advanced training and mentoring in several areas, including: prevention science, developmental psychopathology, intervention design and implementation, randomized controlled trials, and longitudinal methodology. Advanced training in these areas will serve as an excellent foundation for Dr. Petrenko to continue her program of research and foster her development as an independent researcher. The proposed research will incorporate multiple methods to rigorously develop and evaluate a preventive intervention for children with prenatal alcohol exposure (ages 4 to 8). The preliminary framework of the proposed intervention includes parent consultation, child skills training, and educating systems. The intervention will target multiple short- and long-term outcomes, including mental health, school adjustment, social competence, delinquency, parenting, and home environment. Pre-intervention research will inform the content and framework of the preventive intervention. Specifically, focus groups will be conducted with key community stakeholders (caregivers and helping professionals) to evaluate perceived needs and the acceptability of the proposed intervention. Once a tailored intervention is developed, an implementation trial will be conducted to fine-tune the curriculum and ensure the preventive intervention is feasible and engaging for families. The intervention will then be piloted and evaluated through a randomized controlled trial. The proposed preventive intervention aims to improve competence and reduce risk factors for children with prenatal alcohol exposure and increase the likelihood that they will continue on an adaptive developmental trajectory. This intervention has the potential to improve the quality of life for children with FASD and their families and reduce the significant costs to society that accompany prenatal alcohol exposure. This research will also be applied more broadly to test current theories of developmental psychopathology and prevention science, which will improve our understanding of the etiology and malleability of maladaptive behaviors