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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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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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.
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