Any amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy can have a significant impact on a child’s brain development, leading to anxiety, depression, and poor attention in youth, a new research from Australia’s University of Sydney said.
Published on Friday, researchers from the university’s Matilda Center for Research in Mental Health and Substance found children who exposed to even low level of alcohol in the womb during pregnancy displayed more psychological, emotional or behavioral problems than unexposed children.
Low level of alcohol use has been defined as no more than six drinks per week.
In the largest study of its kind, the researchers sampled 9,719 youth to investigate the connection between a small amount of alcohol consumption in pregnancy and the psychological, behavioral, neural, and cognitive differences in children aged nine to 10 years old, hoping to find out whether there is a safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy.
“Our research found that even small amounts of alcohol consumed while pregnant can have a significant impact on a child’s brain development,” lead author, PhD candidate Briana Lees from the Matilda Center said.
“The data indicates that there is no completely safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.”
“This study is so important because in Australia, around 50 percent of women drink alcohol before they know they are pregnant, and 25 percent do so after they know. The vast majority consume one or two standard drinks per occasion which this study shows is enough to impact the baby’s brain.”