More studies show drinking during pregnancy leads to brain development problems…

November 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm

A study by the National Institute of Health find that heavy drinking during pregnancy affects fetal brain development.

The study is the first to track children over several years to examine how heavy exposure to alcohol in utero affects brain growth over time.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, researchers found that brain growth patterns in children whose mothers drank heavily while pregnant differed from normal patterns of development seen in children who were not exposed to alcohol before birth. The findings suggest that children with heavy alcohol exposure have decreased brain plasticity – the brain’s ability to grow and remodel itself based on experience with the outside world. Such adaptation continues throughout one’s life and is crucial to learning new skills and adapting to the environment.

Drinking during pregnancy is linked to a string of disorders known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders or FASD, that is an umbrella term for more specific diagnoses such as Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder & Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, among others. FASD is linked to brain damage, learning disabilities, poor decision making, behavioral problems, related facial characteristics, and poor judgement. Many people with FASD are at higher risk for not finishing school, not holding a job, and ending up in the criminal justice system. FASDs are 100% preventable if a mother chooses not to drink during her pregnancy.

Entry filed under: Prevention.

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