Low Levels of Alcohol During Pregnancy Can Affect Facial Development in Unborn Children

Alcohol is bad for babys

According to a recent study, even low levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy can affect the development of an unborn child's face. Heavy drinking during pregnancy is already known to cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which can cause characteristic changes in a baby's facial features, cognitive abilities, and behavior.

The study was led by Gennady Roshchupkin, an epidemiologist at Erasmus Medical Centre in The Netherlands. He described a child's face as a "health mirror" that reflects their overall health.

 Roshchupkin said that a child's exposure to alcohol before birth can have significant adverse effects on their health and development, and if a mother drinks regularly and in large amounts, this can result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which is often reflected in the child's facial features.

Babies with this syndrome typically have a very thin upper lip, smooth skin between the nose and upper lip (known as the philtrum), smaller eyes, and an upturned nose. They often struggle with concentration, memory tasks, schoolwork, and socializing.

As prenatal alcohol exposure increases from left to right in children, the facial changes become more pronounced as shown by stronger reds (showing features sinking in) or stronger blues (showing features jutting out more). (Liu, et al., Human Reproduction, 2023)

Previous research has shown that even less than 70 grams of alcohol per week during pregnancy can impact the craniofacial development of infants. This recent study is the first to look at alcohol consumption levels as low as 12 grams per week.

Health advisors emphasize that there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy. Even small amounts of alcohol can have consequences for the development of an unborn child. 

Therefore, it's important for pregnant women to abstain from alcohol consumption for the health of their child.

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