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Even low levels of alcohol during pregnancy may impact brain development in babies

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According to a research study conducted by University of Sydney and recently published in American Journal of Psychiatry, low levels of alcohol consumption was found to have adverse effects on the brain development of children.

The researchers investigated whether any alcohol consumption in pregnancy was related to psychological, behavioral, neural and cognitive differences in children aged nine to ten years. With a sample of 9,719 youth, this is the largest study to investigate the impacts of low-level alcohol use during pregnancy. Low levels of drinking were considered one to two drinks per occasion with maximum of six drinks per week.

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Children who were exposed to low levels of alcohol in the uterus, experienced more psychological/emotional problems (including anxiety, depression and being withdrawn) and behavioral problems (including poor attention and being impulsive) than unexposed children.

There was a 25% increased likelihood of an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis in children who were exposed to slightly heavier levels of alcohol (approximately 36 drinks) in the first 6-7 weeks of pregnancy.

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Heavier alcohol use during early pregnancy was also associated with rule breaking behavior and aggression, with a 30 percent higher risk of the child being diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder than unexposed youth.

Based on the above findings, researchers now recommend that it is best to abstain from any amount of alcohol during pregnancy as even low amounts of consumption (one to two drinks per occasion with maximum of six drinks per week) may affect your baby adversely.

Photo by Mattias Diesel on Unsplash

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