Alcohol in pregnancy is one of the prohibited substances for pregnant women. And although this knowledge was already part of medical recommendations, a new discovery explains the early effect that alcoholic beverages would have on fetuses.
Not released yet, but now Presented at the American Society of Radiology Annual Meeting, research conducted by Gregor Kasprian specifies that the fetal brain is changed by small amounts of alcohol consumed by the mother. This effect would be evident as early as mid-gestation and would have long-term consequences.
According to the scientist, it is not only necessary to consider the biological connotations of this discovery. The reality of the availability and affordability of drugs in some countries also needs to be brought to the table.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is not something marginal. According to the study authors, up to nearly 10% of mothers consume alcoholic beverages while the business lasts.
What was the new study on alcohol in pregnancy about?
Dr Kasprian provided details of how the research was done with fetuses. They used MRI, as this method does not use harmful radiation.
The population consisted of 24 fetuses aged between 22 and 36 weeks of gestation.. Their mothers had a history of alcohol use during pregnancy.
For comparison, MRIs were also performed on 52 other fetuses whose mothers had not been exposed to alcohol. In the group of mothers who drank alcohol, the average consumption was less than one drink per week.
After running the MRIs, the best-known results were as follows:
- Fetuses exposed to alcohol they had a lower maturation score than the other group. That is, their brain development inside the womb was slower.
- Fetuses exposed to alcohol showed changes in the structure of the brain.
What brain changes do alcohol-exposed fetuses have?
According to the report by Dr. Kasprian and his team, MRI revealed marked changes in the right temporal sulcus of the brain and in other parts of the temporal area. This region is one associated with social behavior, audiovisual integration, and language development.
for various previous investigations We know that the temporal lobe plays an important role in processing visual and auditory information. This allows us to enjoy music, converse with others and even regulate emotions.
Although it is difficult to establish the extent of these changes in the fetal brain in the adult stage, there are reasons to suspect that the influence may be extensive. Some scientific studies they have already reported one association between mothers with alcohol abuse and children with conduct problems in their adolescence and adulthood.
More search results
MRI as well found an increase in the size of the corpus callosum of the brain and a reduction in the periventricular area. The corpus callosum is a structure that connects both cerebral hemispheres, while the periventricular zone is the region around the ventricles (these are spaces with cerebrospinal fluid).
Involvement of the corpus callosum would lead to very different symptoms. Since it is the connection area between the hemispheres, one might notice problems in such dissimilar aspects as numerical data processing and personality.
On the other hand, the periventricular zone is a birth site of neurons. Experts believe that its reduction that would be a sign of less brain cell production. This would explain, in part, why the fetuses of alcoholic mothers develop more slowly.
How bad is alcohol during pregnancy?
The strict recommendation is not to consume alcohol during pregnancy. Many doctors agree that there is no safe dose of the substance for pregnant women.
However, some research seems to contradict this and postulate that small amounts would not be enough to cause changes in fetuses. These claims, while substantiated by research and scientific publications, are not without controversy.
According to Elizabeth ArmstrongThere is no conclusive evidence that occasional drinking leads to fetal alcohol syndrome. Even the doctorate insists that the strict recommendations for women only generate fear and anxiety, without having a beneficial effect.
A scientific study of the year 2012 It also points in the same direction. According to their authors, children of mothers who consumed small amounts of alcohol did not have cognitive impairments, at least until 5 years of age.
Despite this, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Center for Disease Control and Preventionfor its acronym in English) are strong. There is no minimum safe amount. The government institution emphasizes that mothers should not ingest alcohol during pregnancy.
He National Health Service (nhs) of the United Kingdom also advises against the intake of alcohol during pregnancy. According to their experts, there is no safe dose in this case and the safest attitude would be not to take the substancebecause there aren’t enough elements to rule out fetal damage.
What should I do if I’m pregnant?
It is very likely that, if you are pregnant and consult your doctor about the possibility of drinking alcohol, the pro tells you not to. This is the advice most supported by science, despite the divergences that may exist with some isolated studies.
The very possibility of damaging the fetal brain should be a warning. If there is no clearly established safe dose, then one should choose to completely eliminate the substance from the diet.
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