Scientists: Drinking alcohol, even in limited quantities, changes the structure of the fetal brain

European and American physicians have found that even moderate, limited alcohol consumption during pregnancy leads to structural abnormalities in the developing brain of the baby.

This was announced on Tuesday, November 22, by the press service of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

The use of alcoholic beverages during pregnancy leads to the development of the so-called fetal alcohol syndrome, or rather, it is a group of diseases that occur during the development of a child inside the womb, which negatively affects his entire subsequent life. According to modern estimates by European scientists, such problems occur in 1-5% of newborns in most developed countries, as well as in a much larger number of children in developing countries.

The researchers decided to find out how small doses of alcohol affect the development of the brain of the unborn child and the fetus as a whole. To do this, they analyzed the work of colleagues who studied the health of pregnant women and their babies. The research team also took into account the amount of alcohol the study participants drank during pregnancy.

Scientists were able to identify 24 cases of alcohol exposure to the fetus in early and late pregnancy. Doctors analyzed MRI images and found that even small and medium doses affect the structure of the child’s brain. Scientists recorded abnormalities in the structure of the temporal lobe and superior temporal sulcus of the fetal brain in 7 study participants who consumed less than one dose of alcohol per week.

The analysis showed that alcohol consumption is associated with a general slowdown in brain development in children, as well as a delay in the formation of the myelin sheath that covers the nerves and plays a major role in signaling between nerve cells and protecting nerve endings from damage. In addition, alcohol slowed down the formation of convolutions and changed the overall structure of the brain.

Source: TASS