Scientists have shown how alcohol during pregnancy can change the face of a child
Human Reproduction: Even small doses of alcohol during pregnancy can change the baby's face
Scientists from the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology have found that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can affect the facial features of the unborn child. The results are published in the journal Human Reproduction .
The researchers used artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning algorithms to find a link between changes in the shape of children’s faces and the amount of alcohol their mothers drank before and during pregnancy. The scientists analyzed 3D images of 3,149 children aged nine and 2,477 children aged 13.
The analysis showed that less than 12 grams of alcohol per week could have affected the child’s facial features – the equivalent of 175 ml of wine or 330 ml of beer.
The most common consequences of drinking alcohol turned out to be an upturned tip of the nose, a shortened nose, a sloping chin and dimples under the eyes – symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome. These changes became less noticeable as the child grew, and practically disappeared at the age of 13 years. Scientists suggest that this may be due to the growth of the influence of other environmental factors, or the signs are compensated with the growth of the child.
Other symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome include cognitive impairment, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and speech delays. The study highlights that there are no safe levels of alcohol during pregnancy.