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Alcohol Res Health. 2001;25(3):185-91.

Teratogenic effects of alcohol on brain and behavior.

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Center for Behavioral Teratology, San Diego State University (SDSU), San Diego, California, USA.


Children prenatally exposed to alcohol can suffer from serious cognitive deficits and behavioral problems as well as from alcohol-related changes in brain structure. Neuropsychological studies have identified deficits in learning and memory as well as in executive functioning both in children with fetal alcohol syndrome and in children with less severe impairments. Both groups of children also exhibit problem behaviors, such as alcohol and drug use, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and poor socialization and communication skills. Brain imaging studies have identified structural changes in various brain regions of these children--including the basal ganglia, corpus callosum, cerebellum, and hippocampus--that may account for the cognitive deficits. Functional brain imaging studies also have detected changes in alcohol-exposed children indicative of deficits in information processing and memory tasks.

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