Pregnancy and alcohol.. The consumption of the mother affects the health of the child and distorts his face

The dangers of drinking alcohol by the mother:

It is estimated that 1 in 10 women consume alcohol during pregnancy. While numerous studies have attempted to educate future parents about the dangers of maternal alcohol consumption, and in particular the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), it is estimated that 1 in 10 women consume alcohol during her pregnancy. This research, conducted at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam (Netherlands), provides us with a brand new striking piece of information: maternal alcohol consumption before and during pregnancy is linked to changes in the shape of children's faces. These conclusions, documented in the journal Human Reproduction, go so far as to specify, using artificial intelligence, the alterations in the shape of the faces of children associated with the amount of alcohol consumed by mothers.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome:

We knew that alcohol acts on the embryo and the fetus, on its nervous system and its brain, resulting in "FAS" or fetal alcohol syndrome, with severe risks for the unborn child. By passing from the maternal blood to the blood of the fetus, through the placenta, alcohol carries a very high risk of damage to cerebral functions and/or irreversible malformations. Thus, FAS is characterized by mental, behavioral and learning disorders, as well as physical disabilities. In particular, it can lead to an increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety and impulsivity disorders.

Morphological and aesthetic alterations in children:

However, this research specifies, for the first time, morphological and aesthetic alterations in children, linked to maternal alcohol consumption. Indeed, until now, little was known about the effect of low alcohol consumption on the facial development of children and, explain the researchers, by "ricochet", on their health. It is also the first study to examine the issue in children of multiple ethnic backgrounds.

Up to 3 months before conception and during pregnancy:

The Study: Researchers here use artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning technology to find a link between alterations in children's face shape and the amount of alcohol consumed by their mothers, at the both before conception and during pregnancy. Specifically, the team analyzed three-dimensional images of 3,149 children taken at age 9 and 2,477 children at age 13 who were part of the Generation R study, a study that follows pregnant women and their children from fetal life.

“We developed an AI-based algorithm, which analyzes high-resolution 3D images of the face and produces 200 unique measurements or features. This allowed us to search for associations with prenatal alcohol exposure and to develop a map of particular facial features associated with maternal alcohol consumption.”

The effect of drinking alcohol by the mother on the face of the child:

Maternal alcohol consumption data were obtained from questionnaires completed by women in early, middle and late pregnancy. The analysis reveals that:

  • the association with altered facial shape is found in children of mothers who drank alcohol up to 3 months before becoming pregnant but who stopped during pregnancy;
  • the association with the altered shape of the face exists even if the mothers consumed less than 12 g of alcohol per week,
  • which is the equivalent of a small 175 ml glass of wine or 330 ml of beer;
  • the more alcohol the mothers drank, the more statistically significant the changes;
  • the most common "peculiar" features include the tip of the upturned nose, the shortened nose, the turned chin and the upturned lower eyelid;
  • this link between alcohol consumption and face shape weakens in older children and no significant association is found in children aged 13 years.

The discovery nevertheless remains essential, because it illustrates the indisputable impact of the maternal consumption of alcohol, including at very modest levels, on the unborn Child, and because then the shape of the children's faces is an indication of problems. health and development.

Significant negative effects on the development of the child:

The main author, Gennady Roshchupkin, professor of biology at the Erasmus Medical Center comments on this discovery: “the face is a “mirror of health”,
"This alteration in the shape of the child's face to alcohol before birth can have significant adverse effects on its development and, if a mother regularly drinks in large quantities, it can lead to a spectrum disorder of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Reflected on Children's Faces.

This large study thus identifies a statistically significant association between prenatal alcohol exposure and face shape in children at the age of 9 years.

The need to stop drinking alcohol:

Among the group of mothers who drank throughout pregnancy, we found that although the mothers drank very little during pregnancy, less than 12 g per week, the association between alcohol exposure and the shape of the children's faces could be observed. This is the first time an association has been demonstrated at such low levels of alcohol consumption.

On the reduction of the particular characteristics of the child, associated with the maternal consumption of alcohol, it is possible that with the growth, the child undergoes other environmental factors which erase these alterations, however "this does not mean that the effect of alcohol on health also disappears”.

The conclusion remains "there is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
and that it is advisable to stop drinking alcohol even before conception, to ensure optimal results for the health of the mother and the developing fetus”.