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
Add a Comment
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:
Add a Comment
“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
Add a Comment
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Bed-sharing between parents and a baby is associated with a five-fold increase in the risk that an infant could die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. The risk, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, is the same even in households where parents do not smoke, take drugs, or drink alcohol–the factors that have been previously associated with SIDS. More from MedPageToday.com:
When neither parent smoked, and the baby was breastfed, less than 3-months old, and had no other major SIDS risk factors, the adjusted odds ratio for bed-sharing versus room-sharing was still 5.1 (2.3 to 11.4), reported Robert Carpenter PhD, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues, in the online journal BMJ Open.
The estimated absolute risk for bed-sharing compared with room-sharing was 0.23/1,000 live births (0.11 to 0.43) versus 0.08/1,000 live births, they added.
Nine out of 10 SIDS deaths that involved sleeping with a parent or caregiver would not have occurred in the absence of bed-sharing, the researchers concluded.
Advice on bed-sharing varies by country, but “there is general acceptance that sleeping with a baby is a risk factor for SIDS when sleeping … in a bed if the mother smokes and/or has taken alcohol,” the authors explained. But there’s less consensus on whether bed-sharing is still a problem with the absence of these risk factors.
The study combined five major case-control trials conducted in the U.K. and Europe, as well as in Australia and surrounding countries, that included 1,472 infant SIDS deaths and 4,679 controls, making it the largest study of SIDS risk factors ever reported, according to the authors.
Bed-sharing was defined as sleeping in the same bed with one or both parents, while room-sharing was defined as sleeping in a crib in the same room as a parent.
Updated 5/22/13 to remove the reference to “co-sleeping.” While “co-sleeping” and “bed-sharing” are sometimes used interchangeably, there are methods of co-sleeping that are safe, while studies such as the one discussed in this post show the dangers of bed-sharing.
Image: Baby in bed, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Monday, July 23rd, 2012
One in 13 pregnant women reports that they have had alcoholic drinks during their pregnancies, some even admitting to drinking binges, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. From The Huffington Post:
The CDC numbers are from national telephone surveys that included 14,000 pregnant women. They were asked whether they drank alcohol the previous month and how much.
Of those who said they drank, nearly 1 in 5 said they went on at least one binge – downing four or more drinks. Pregnant women ages 35 to 44 were the biggest drinkers.
The good news: Binge drinking among pregnant women is down slightly since a similar study was done in the early 2000s.
Image: Pregnant woman with beer, via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment