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Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Erin Cox, a high school senior from North Andover, Massachusetts has lost her status as volleyball team captain–and been suspended for 5 games–after she drove to a party to pick up a friend who had called her, saying she was too drunk to drive home. Cox, police officers verified, had not been drinking. More from The Associated Press:
North Andover High School’s Erin Cox says she got a call two weeks ago from a friend at a party who said she was too drunk to drive. She said she went to pick up the friend, because she didn’t want the friend driving drunk or getting into a vehicle with an intoxicated driver.
By the time Erin arrived at the party, police were already there. They arrested several students for underage possession of alcohol.
Erin was cleared by police for not drinking or being in the possession of alcohol, but that didn’t stop school officials from punishing her for violating a no tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, her mother, Eleanor Cox, told WBZ-TV.
‘‘She did what she thought was right, and I’m very proud of her,’’ Eleanor Cox said.
The family has hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit last week, but a judge ruled the court did not have jurisdiction.
Image: Police siren, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
Children who are adopted or who are in the foster care system have a heightened rate of fetal alcohol syndrome and other emotional and physical conditions that are associated with prenatal exposure to alcohol, according to a new review of more than 30 studies conducted in America and Russia. More from Reuters:
Among those children, researchers found that rates of alcohol-related problems – which can include deformities, mental retardation and learning disabilities – were anywhere from nine to 60 times higher than in the general population.
“It’s increasingly well recognized that this is a very high-risk population and one that we should really be paying attention to,” Phil Fisher, a psychologist who studies foster and adopted children at the University of Oregon in Eugene, said.
“We know that one of the main reasons that kids end up in foster care or being made eligible for adoption is because their parents have substance abuse problems,” added Fisher, who wasn’t involved in the new research.
Image: Pregnant woman holding wine glass, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, August 8th, 2013
Babies who are born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, often referred to as fetal alcohol syndrome, suffer brain development delays well into their childhood and even into adolescence, not only at birth and in young infanthood, according to a new research from the University of Alberta. More from ScienceDaily:
Researchers used an advanced MRI method that examines white matter in the brain. White matter forms connections between various regions of the brain and usually develops significantly during childhood and adolescence. Those who took part in the study were imaged multiple times, to see what kinds of changes occurred in brain development as the participants aged. Those without the disorder had marked increases in brain volume and white matter — growth that was lacking in those with FASD. However, the advanced MRI method revealed greater changes in the brain wiring of white matter in the FASD group, which the authors suggest may reflect compensation for delays in development earlier in childhood.
“These findings may suggest that significant brain changes happened earlier in the study participants who didn’t have FASD,” says the study’s first author, Sarah Treit, who is a student in the Centre for Neuroscience at the U of A. “This study suggests alcohol-induced injury with FASD isn’t static — those with FASD have altered brain development, they aren’t developing at the same rate as those without the disorder. And our research showed those with FASD consistently scored lower on all cognitive measures in the study.”
Treit said the research team also made other important observations. Children with FASD who demonstrated the greatest changes in white matter development also made the greatest gains in reading ability — “so the connection seems relevant.” And those with the most severe FASD showed the greatest changes in white matter brain wiring. Scans also confirmed those with FASD have less overall brain volume — this issue neither rectified itself nor worsened throughout the course of the study.
Image: Pregnant woman drinking alcohol, via Shutterstock
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Friday, July 12th, 2013
The personality traits your toddler displays, from the way they interact socially to the way they manage their emotions, may predict how likely they are to drink alcohol when they become teenagers, according to a new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. More from The Huffington Post:
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“People don’t enter adolescence as blank slates; they have a history of life experiences that they bring with them, dating back to early childhood,” Danielle Dick, a psychologist from at Virginia Commonwealth University and a co-author of the study, said in a statement. “This is one of the most comprehensive attempts to understand very early childhood predictors of adolescent alcohol use in a large epidemiological cohort.”
For the study, Dick and her colleagues analyzed the results of a long-term study that tracked thousands of newborns in South West England from birth through 15 1/2 years. The dataset included personality information obtained from mothers in the first five years of the child’s life, and from both parents and the subjects themselves thereafter.
The childhood traits that most correlated with alcohol use during teenage years fell on two sides of the temperament spectrum: emotional instability and relatively low sociability on one side, and high sociability on the other — a degree of extroversion that often leads to “sensation seeking” later in life. Tots who were either emotionally challenged or highly extroverted were more likely than other kids to grow into alcohol-drinking teens. (Past research has suggested personality is set by first grade.)
“This underscores the fact that drinking during adolescence is largely a social phenomenon,” Dick said in a statement. “However, this doesn’t mean it’s less problematic; we know from other studies that most adolescent drinking is high risk — for example, binge drinking — and can lead to numerous negative consequences.”
Thursday, June 20th, 2013
Though pregnant women should avoid alcohol as much as possible, having the occasional alcoholic beverage during pregnancy may not harm a fetus as much as was previously thought, according to a British study published in the journal BMJ Open. More from Time.com:
According to [the] study, children born to mothers who drank moderately while pregnant did not show signs of balance problems when they were 10; trouble with balance is a good indicator of problems with brain development in utero, the authors say.
The researchers, who published their results in the journal BMJ Open, studied nearly 7,000 ten-year-olds enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children who were born between 1991 and 1992. The children were given three different balance tests, including walking on a balance beam and standing still on one leg with their eyes closed. Those whose mothers reported drinking three to seven alcoholic beverages a week during their 18th week of pregnancy were more likely to fall into the top 25% of performers on the balance exercises compared to those whose moms abstained.
These findings support those of a previous study out of Denmark that reported light to moderate drinking early in pregnancy was not associated with declines in intelligence, attention or self-control in children at age 5. But this study did caution that heavy drinking was linked to negative developmental effects.
Despite the fact that better balance is an indicator of healthy brain development in the womb, the current results don’t necessarily mean that it’s time to rethink the advice that pregnant women shouldn’t drink. Research has shown that drinking can cause physical deformities as well as behavioral and cognitive symptoms in babies, including fetal alcohol syndrome.
Image: Pregnant woman with wine, via Shutterstock
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