Fetal alcohol exposure linked to a decrease in cognitive performance

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Washington, Oct 20 (ANI): A new research has shown that exposure to alcohol as a fetus causes difficulties in memory and information processing in children.

The findings indicate that visual perception, control of attention and demand processing may be involved in fetal alcohol-related learning problems.

It has been known for many years that drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause serious and irreversible damage to the fetus.

However, new research exploring memory deficits in children diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) or fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) may be able to aid in the creation of new therapies and treatments.

"FASD is associated with learning problems in children, including having difficulties in response inhibition and memory," says Jacobson, one of the study's authors.

"Additional understanding of the nature of these problems has the potential to help develop more effective remediation programs for children with fetal alcohol-related learning problems.

He added, "prenatal alcohol exposure affects many different aspects of brain development, including brain size, neuronal development, and development of white matter tracts."

Data for this research was collected from 217 Inuit children that were placed in either the alcohol-exposed group, where mothers reported binge drinking while pregnant, or the control.

The researchers discovered that the alcohol-exposed group, while similar to the control in accuracy and reaction time, showed a statistically significant decrease in understanding the meaning of a stimulus, attention dedication to a specific task, and memory processing.

The results will be published in the January 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. (ANI)

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