-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 11, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Children who are
exposed to alcohol before they are born are more likely to have
problems with their social skills, according to new research.
Having a mother who drank during pregnancy was also linked to
significant emotional and behavioral issues, the study found.
However, these kids weren't necessarily less intelligent than
The researchers, Justin Quattlebaum and Mary O'Connor of the
University of California, Los Angeles, say their findings point to
an urgent need for the early detection and treatment of social
problems in kids resulting from exposure to alcohol in the
Early intervention could maximize the benefits since children's
developing brains have the most "plasticity" -- ability to change
and adapt -- as they learn, the study authors pointed out.
The study, published online and in a recent print edition of
Child Neuropsychology, involved 125 children between 6 and
12 years old. Of these kids, 97 met the criteria for a fetal
alcohol spectrum disorder. The researchers assessed the children's
thinking as well as their emotional, social and behavioral
Children exposed to alcohol before birth had more social
problems, even after the researchers took IQ into account. These
children also had much lower scores than other kids on a number of
tests. For example, they were less able to connect past experience
with present actions or understand why people do the things they
do. They also performed worse on tests of their organizational and
planning skills, attention and working memory.
Parents of these kids also reported that their children showed
more inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. They
were also more likely to have symptoms of depression, the authors
noted in a journal news release.
Although the study tied a number of social, emotional and
thinking problems in children to their mothers' alcohol use during
pregnancy, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
alcohol use during pregnancy.
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