Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Study Finds Babies Born To Mothers Who Drink Alcohol Heavily May Suffer Permanent Nerve Damage

Date:
March 9, 2004
Source:
NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development
Summary:
Newborns whose mothers drank alcohol heavily during pregnancy had damage to the nerves in the arms and legs, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, one of the National Institutes of Health.

Newborns whose mothers drank alcohol heavily during pregnancy had damage to the nerves in the arms and legs, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, one of the National Institutes of Health. The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Chile.

The nerve damage was still present when the children were reexamined at one year of age.

The study is the first to examine whether exposure to alcohol before birth affects the developing peripheral nervous system-the nerves in the arms and legs, rather than in the brain or spinal cord. The study appears in the March issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

"Infants born to mothers who drink heavily during pregnancy are known to be at risk for mental retardation and birth defects, said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the NICHD. "This is the first study to show that these infants may suffer peripheral nerve damage as well."

Adults who drink excessive amounts of alcohol can experience peripheral neuropathy, a condition that occurs when nerves involved in communication between the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the rest of the body are damaged. This can lead to tingling sensations, numbness, pain or weakness.

The NICHD-University of Chile Alcohol and Pregnancy Study compared 17 full-term, newborn infants whose mothers drank heavily during pregnancy to 13 newborns not exposed to alcohol in the womb. "Heavy drinking" is defined as having four standard drinks per day (one standard drink is equivalent to one can of beer, one glass of wine or one mixed drink). All women identified as heavy drinkers were advised that their drinking habits were potentially dangerous to their fetus and were offered help from an alcohol counseling clinic to stop drinking alcohol or to cut down on their drinking.

All of the children underwent a complete neurological exam followed by testing of the nerves in their upper and lower limbs. The researchers stimulated the nerves using a machine that passed a very mild electric current through the skin and then recorded the electrical activity of the nerves to determine if they were normal or damaged. (The procedure uses a current mild enough not to cause pain.) The nerve studies were performed when the children were about one month old and again when they were 12 to 14 months old.

The children exposed to alcohol before they were born experienced significant problems in conducting a message through the nerves--both at one month and one year of age. The alcohol-exposed children did not experience any catch-up or improvement in nerve function by the time they reached their first birthday.

"The finding that the nerve damage persisted when the children were a year old suggests that alcohol may cause permanent damage to developing nerves," said James L. Mills, MD, MS, director of the study and chief of the Pediatric Epidemiology Section in the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research at the NICHD. "Because the children were evaluated before they could talk, they were unable to tell us if they had symptoms such as pain or numbness. We are continuing to follow these children to determine what effect this nerve damage will have on normal nerve function and whether it will lead to weakness or problems with touch sensation or fine motor skills later in life."

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that pregnant women not consume any alcohol. Information on the hazards of alcohol use during pregnancy is available at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochure.htm.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. "New Study Finds Babies Born To Mothers Who Drink Alcohol Heavily May Suffer Permanent Nerve Damage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040309075155.htm>.
NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. (2004, March 9). New Study Finds Babies Born To Mothers Who Drink Alcohol Heavily May Suffer Permanent Nerve Damage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040309075155.htm
NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. "New Study Finds Babies Born To Mothers Who Drink Alcohol Heavily May Suffer Permanent Nerve Damage." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040309075155.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins