Heavy Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Disrupts Brain Development

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Heavy prenatal exposure to alcohol may disrupt proper brain development during childhood and adolescence, new research suggests.

An international, multisite study of 133 children and youth showed, through the use of strucural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, that those who had mothers who drank heavily during pregnancy had significantly decreased brain plasticity compared with the children whose mothers did not drink.

Brain plasticity is important for learning new skills and for adapting to various environments throughout life.

In addition, the participants who had heavy alcohol exposure showed lower scores on tests of intelligence and more severe facial abnormalities.

by Deborah Brauser

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