Neuroimaging links brain region to poor spatial navigation in children affected by prenatal alcohol exposure

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) describe the range of effects associated with prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE). The most severe forms of FASD are fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and partial fetal alcohol syndrome (PFAS), which have adverse effects on learning and memory and result in observable physical abnormalities, including a distinct pattern of facial dysmorphic features, small head circumference, and growth restriction. Identifying the specific brain regions affected is important to fully understand the impact of PAE. Poor spatial skills are common in children with FASD, and tests of navigation in rodents – and more recently, humans – have linked PAE to impairment in ‘place learning’ (the learning of physical positions or locations of objects). Place learning in rodents and humans depends on the hippocampus, a small seahorse-shaped structure in each side of the brain. The hippocampus is particularly sensitive to PAE and is smaller in people (and rodents) exposed to alcohol in

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Moderate to Heavy Drinking During Pregnancy Alters Genes in Newborns, Mothers

Mothers who drink moderate to high levels of alcohol during pregnancy may be changing their babies’ DNA, according to a Rutgers-led study.

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