Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol Disrupts Brain Circuitry: No Safe Level of Drinking During Pregnancy, Neuroscientist Says

Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol Disrupts Brain Circuitry : No Safe Level of Drinking During Pregnancy, Neuroscientist says

From: Science Daily (December 3, 2013) (Accessed December 6, 2013).

Commentary by Krystal Glowatski 

Despite recent research out of Europe contending that consuming alcohol during pregnancy does not have negative effects on children, this study argues quite the opposite.  What this issue really boils down to is the fact that while sometimes alcohol may effect a fetus, other times it may not – but why risk it?  We still do not know the full range of effects alcohol can have, the amount of alcohol (if any) that can be deemed “safe” during pregnancy, which term of pregnancy is most susceptible to the effects of alcohol, nor if certain types of alcohol have a larger impact than others.

Stated quite simply, and conservatively: “If you consume alcohol when you are pregnant you can disrupt the development of your baby’s brain,” said Kelly Huffman, assistant professor of psychology at UC Riverside and lead author of the study.  While drinking during pregnancy does not necessarily indicate the presence of FASD, drinking while pregnant does change the structure of the brain.  Perhaps one of the most straightforward statements on drinking while pregnant I have ever heard was stated in this article: “Would you put whiskey in your baby’s bottle? Drinking during pregnancy is not that much different…  If you ask me if you have three glasses of wine during pregnancy will your child have FASD, I would say probably not. If you ask if there will be changes in the brain, I would say, probably. There is no safe level of drinking during pregnancy.”

The fact that even minimal drinking can change the brain’s structure is powerful enough to serve as a warning to the masses.  While more research needs to be done to find out the intricacies of the dangers of alcohol to pregnant women and their babies, for now we know – even the smallest amount of alcohol can change the brain.


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