Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Parental Alcohol Exposure
Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) can cause a developing fetus to suffer significant health consequences. According to research, impairments caused by PAE contribute to the over-representation of individuals with FASD in the United States juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. One possible effect of PAE is for a child to be born with Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE).
What is Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE)?

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a term used to describe the range of cognitive, behavioral, and physical effects that can be caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE) is a possible diagnosis that can occur due to prenatal exposure.

ND-PAE was introduced in 2013 when it was included in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association. Recent research has indicated that those with ND-PAE can have impaired neurocognition, self-regulation, adaptive functioning, and a history of prenatal alcohol exposure. In addition, unlike other FASDs, ND-PAE can be present with or without dysmorphic facial features, meaning that it may not be as physically apparent that a person has a FASD. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "people with ND-PAE can have problems with thinking, behavior, and life skills.” These individuals may also struggle with mood or behavioral regulation, attention, and impulse control.

Recently, ND-PAE was referenced in connection with a Florida death row inmate. Attorneys for convicted murderer Donald David Dillbeck went to the U.S. Supreme Court attempting to stop his execution on the basis that he suffered from ND-PAE. In his appeal, Dillibeck’s advocates argued that "(The) medical community now recognizes that the unique, cognitive, practical, and social impairments inherent to a neurobehavioral disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure are indistinguishable from those of intellectual/developmental disability.”

Dillibeck’s attorneys also contended that "persons with ND-PAE exhibit maladaptive behavior and face criminal charges much more often than the general population: 61% of adolescents with FASD and 58% of adults with the disorder come into contact with the criminal justice system.” Ultimately, Mr. Dillibeck’s appeal was unsuccessful. However, his case raises concerns that individuals with ND-PAE have similar impairments as those with intellectual developmental disability, which are not being properly considered and evaluated by the criminal justice system.

If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental disabilities. To schedule a consultation, contact us or call (509) 991-7058.

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