ND-PAE/FASD Hidden between the lines of Prominent Research Findings

Results of a new study (see below) point to symptoms of prenatal alcohol exposure contributing to alcohol use by age 18. Of the 34 “risk factors” identified, early dating (i.e., sexual promiscuity), more externalizing behaviors (acting out, impulsivity, hyperactivity, aggression, disruptive behaviors), worse executive functioning (working memory, attention, processing speed), and thinner cortices (smaller white matter compared to gray matter in the “neocortex”), and less brain activation in diffusely distributed regions of the brain (also seen on qEEG and fMRI in affected individuals). In the FASD world, we have known for decades that individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol have much higher risk of alcohol use behaviors by their adolescent years.

The authors of the study concluded the following: “The results provide evidence that multimodal neuroimaging data, as well as neuropsychological testing, can be used to generate predictions of future behaviors.”  To me, it’s interesting that the same highly expensive neurocognitive and neuroimaging studies are useful to predict prenatal alcohol exposure, yet the surest way to prevent it is to have alcohol consumers use reliable contraception.

I believe we as a society should do more to ensure that men and women stay away from alcohol during reproductive years unless they are using birth control. Alcohol use by males affects sperm development up to 3 months prior to conception and as many as 75% of children with effects of “prenatal alcohol use” is due to the father drinking prior to conception.  The point at which our offspring are most vulnerable is the time in which most people are unaware they may cause harm to their future child.  There is no safe amount of alcohol if you are having unprotected sex.

Pass on the word: If you are using alcohol, prevent pregnancy (i.e., contracept). If you are already pregnant or planning a pregnancy, stop using alcohol (beer, wine, and liquor).




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