Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

Helsingin yliopisto, Helsinki 2006

Sikiöaikana päihteille altistuneiden lasten kasvuympäristö ja kehitys

Anne Maarit Koponen

Väitöskirja, syyskuu 2006.
Helsingin yliopisto, valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, sosiaalipsykologian laitos.

Life of children exposed to alcohol or drugs in utero

This study focused on the growth environment, physical development and socio-emotional development of children, aged 16 and under, who had been exposed to alcohol (n=78) or drugs (n=15) in utero. The aim of the study was to obtain a comprehensive picture of the living conditions of these children and to examine the role of the growth environment in their development. The study was carried out using questionnaires, written life stories and interviews. Attachment theory was used as a background theory in the study.

Over half of the children exposed to alcohol were diagnosed with foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), one quarter was diagnosed with foetal alcohol effects (FAE), and one fifth had no diagnosis. Most of the children exposed to drugs had been exposed to either amphetamines or cannabis, and a smaller number to heroin. Some of the children exposed to alcohol were mentally handicapped or intellectually impaired. The children exposed to drugs did not exhibit any serious learning difficulties but a considerable number of them had socio-emotional development problems. Language and speech problems and attention, concentration and social interaction problems were typical among both the children exposed to alcohol and those exposed to drugs.

Only one child had been placed into long-term foster care in a family immediately after leaving the maternity hospital. In biological families there had been neglect, violence, mental health problems, crime and unemployment, and many parents were already dead. Two of the children had been sexually abused and four were suspected of having been abused.

From the point of view of the children's development, the three most critical issues were 1) the range of illnesses and handicaps that had impaired their functional capacity as a result of their prenatal exposure to alcohol, 2) child's age at the time of placement on a long-term basis, and 3) the number of their traumatic experiences. The relationship with their biological parents after placement also played a role. Children with symptoms were found in all diagnosis categories and types of exposure. Children with the smallest number of symptoms were found among those who had never lived with their biological parents.

Almost all children were exhibiting strong symptoms at the time of placement in foster care. In most cases, they were behaving in a disorderly manner towards others, but some children were withdrawn. The most conspicuous feature among those with the most severe symptoms was their disorganized behaviour. Placement in a foster family enhanced the children's development, but did not solve the problems. The foster parents who brought these children up did not receive as much therapy for the children and support for the upbringing as they appear to have needed. In Finland, transfer to long-term custody is based on strict criteria. The rights of children prescribed in the child protection law are not fulfilled in practice.

Key words: FASD, FAS, FAE, alcohol exposure, drugs exposure, illegal drugs, early interaction, child development, attachment

The title page of the publication

Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty.

© Helsingin yliopisto 2006

Viimeksi päivitetty 07.08.2006

Yhteystiedot, Contact information E-thesis Helsingin yliopisto, University of Helsinki