A study published in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research has found that women classified as heavy alcohol drinkers during pregnancy were at higher risk of delivering babies with reduced brain growth.
In this study 167 pregnant women with a history of “hazardous” alcohol consumption before pregnancy were followed. The study compared fetal growth among drinkers who quit after learning they were pregnant with women who continued to drink heavily, even though pregnant. Ultrasound examinations of the heavy drinkers revealed fetuses with smaller head to abdominal circumference ratios and smaller cerebellums. In comparison, fetal growth measurements of those who quit drinking upon learning of their pregnancies were essentially the same as non-drinkers.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is the leading preventable cause of birth defects. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which includes a range of cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems, may be present in as many as 1 of every 100 births.
Source Article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-04/cfta-usm042606.php
Other Relevant Sources:
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: An Overview with Emphasis on Changes in Brain and Behavior. Authors: Edward P. Riley and Christie L. McGee http://www.ebmonline.org/cgi/content/full/230/6/357
Fetal Alcohol Exposure and the Brain National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism No. 50 December 2000
Alcohol Exposure During Pregnancy: Links to Learning Disabilities, ADD and Behavior Disorders