Prenatal alcohol exposure leads to poor development of kid's brain
A new study has revealed kids who are exposed to alcohol in their mother's womb have poor development of brain functions.
According to the study by The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) showed weaker brain activation during specific cognitive tasks than their unaffected counterparts.
Prapti Gautam and her colleagues found a possible neural mechanism for the persistent attention problems seen in individuals with FASD.
During the period of childhood and adolescence, brain function, working memory and attention performance all rapidly improve, suggesting that this is a crucial time for developing brain networks. To study how prenatal alcohol exposure may alter this development, researchers observed a group of unaffected children and a group of children with FASD over two years. They used fMRI to observe brain activation through mental tasks such as visuo-spatial attention—how we visually perceive the spatial relationships among objects in our environment —and working memory.
The researchers said they found that there were significant differences in development brain activation over time between the two groups, even though they did not differ in task performance. While the healthy control group showed an increase in signal intensity over time, the children with FASD showed a decrease in brain activation during visuo-spatial attention, especially in the frontal, temporal and parietal brain regions.
These results demonstrate that prenatal alcohol exposure can change how brain signaling develops during childhood and adolescence, long after the damaging effects of alcohol exposure in utero.
The study was published in Cerebral Cortex.
(Posted on 05-08-2014)