Any amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy can have a significant impact on a child’s brain development, leading to anxiety, depression, and poor attention in youth, new research from the Australia’s University of Sydney said.
This was published on Friday by researchers from the university’s Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance.
The researchers said it was found that children who were exposed to even low levels of alcohol in the womb during pregnancy displayed more psychological, emotional, or behavioral problems than unexposed children.
A low level of alcohol use has been defined as no more than six drinks per week.
In the largest study of its kind, the researchers sampled 9,719 youth to investigate the connection between a small amount of alcohol consumption in pregnancy and the psychological, behavioral, neural, and cognitive differences in children aged nine to 10 years old.
In the sampling, they hoped to find out whether there is a safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy.
“Our research found that even small amounts consumed while pregnant can have a significant impact on a child’s brain development,” Lead Author, PhD candidate Briana Lees from the Matilda Centre said.
“The data indicates that there is no completely safe level of consumption during pregnancy.
“This study is so important because, in Australia, around 50 percent of women drink alcohol before they know they are pregnant, and 25 percent do so after they know.
“The vast majority consume one or two standard drinks per occasion which this study shows is enough to impact the baby’s brain,” she added.