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Heavy prenatal alcohol linked to childhood brain development problems

(11/1/2012)

Heavy prenatal alcohol linked to childhood brain development problems
NIH News

October 31, 2012

Heavy drinking during pregnancy disrupts proper brain development in children and adolescents years after they were exposed to alcohol in the womb, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health. 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.

View the full article here: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/oct2012/niaaa-31.htm


Keywords: prenatal, alcohol, childhood, brain, development, problems



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