A new study has found that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can change the structure of a baby’s brain.
The study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, looked at brain scans of children aged four to six, and found that those whose mothers had drank during pregnancy had brains with a lower volume of white matter.
White matter is important for the brain to function properly, and is responsible for relaying messages between different regions of the brain.
The study’s lead author, Dr Sarah Lewis, said that the findings could help to explain why children of mothers who drank during pregnancy have been found to have lower IQs and poorer academic performance.
“This study provides the first evidence that drinking alcohol during pregnancy alters the structure of the developing child’s brain,” she said.
“These findings are important because they add to our understanding of the mechanism by which alcohol exposure in pregnancy affects the developing brain and contributes to the risk of poorer cognitive outcomes in childhood.”
It is not known exactly how much alcohol is needed to cause these changes to the brain, but the advice from health professionals is to abstain from drinking completely during pregnancy.
A new study has found that drinking alcohol during pregnancy changes the structure of the baby’s brain.
Researchers used MRI to scan the brains of 1,602 children between the ages of 4 and 11, and found that those whose mothers had drunk alcohol during pregnancy had brains that were different in structure to those who had not been exposed to alcohol in utero.
The changes were most evident in the brain’s cortex, the outer layer that is responsible for processing information from the senses, and in the cerebellum, which regulates movement.
The researchers say that the findings add to the evidence that drinking during pregnancy can have long-term effects on the developing child.
They say that expectant mothers should avoid drinking alcohol altogether, as there is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
The study is published in the journal Radiology.