According to a recent study, a mother’s alcohol use during and throughout pregnancy may affect the facial structure of her unborn child.
As per experts, pregnant people who consume just one 12-ounce beer or 175 ml of wine every week may have an impact on the future looks of their unborn kid.
The team of scientists notes that the new research is enlightening since a child’s facial shape might be a sign of developmental issues.
For instance, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) can be passed down to the fetus if the mother drinks alcohol while expecting.
There are developmental deficiencies, neurological issues, and obviously, abnormal facial features.
The tip of the nose may be turned up or unusually short, the chin can be turned out, and the lower eyelid may be turned in.
Cognitive impairment, ADHD, learning challenges, memory issues, behavioral issues, and delays in speech are just a few examples of symptoms that are linked to pregnancy drinking as well.
FASD is already recognized as a result of a mother’s drinking patterns throughout pregnancy, with a focus on excessive drinking.
However, until recently, little was understood about how low alcohol intake affects children’s face development and long-term health.
Xianjing Liu, the study’s first author, explained during a media release that “We found a significant association between prenatal alcohol and face shape in the 9-year-old children. The more alcohol that the mothers drank, the more significant changes there were.”
Liu went on to say that “Among the group of mothers who drank all throughout pregnancy, we found that even if mothers drank little during pregnancy, less than 12g per week, the link between alcohol exposure and children’s facial shape could still be observed. This is the first time that an association has been shown at such low levels of alcohol consumption.”
Deep learning and artificial intelligence were employed by researchers to find this connection.
They examined 3D pictures of kids aged nine and thirteen.
The kids were part of the Generation R Research, a study focused on pregnant women and their offspring born between January of 2006 and April of 2009.
To determine how much alcohol the women consumed, they answered questions throughout the early, middle, and late stages of pregnancy.
The women were then separated into three groups by the researchers.
The groups were women who drank while pregnant, women who drank for 3 months before getting pregnant, and those who drank neither before nor during their pregnancies.
Those who kept drinking throughout the whole pregnancy and those who only drank during the first trimester were both included in the first group.
All in all, the kids that were 9 demonstrated a strong correlation between the alteration in their facial features and their moms’ drinking histories.
The results showed that the offspring of women who consumed alcohol during the first trimester but quit and those who proceeded to drink for the entire pregnancy were rather comparable.
The findings also indicate that the effects of alcohol intake were most pronounced during the first three months of pregnancy.
In the older kids, the relationship between drinking alcohol and facial shape diminished.
The research is the first to look at this problem in kids from various ethnic groups.
The researchers admit, however, that there were certain limitations, such as the absence of information on alcohol usage more than 3 months before conception and the possibility that moms may not have correctly filled out the questionnaire.
The team points out that their research, which was published in the journal Human Reproduction, may only suggest that drinking alcohol may only be related to changes in face shape rather than proving that they are caused by it.