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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1994 May-Jun;16(3):283-9.

A decrease in the size of the basal ganglia following prenatal alcohol exposure: a preliminary report.

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SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology 92120.


Prenatal alcohol exposure is known to cause damage to the central nervous system. This study sought to further elucidate the structural brain damage that occurs following prenatal alcohol exposure in both children and rats. Two children with histories of maternal alcohol abuse but who did not qualify for a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), based on established criteria, underwent magnetic resonance imaging. Reduced volumes were found for the cerebrum and cerebellum. In addition, the proportional volume of the basal ganglia was reduced, although the proportional volumes of cortical and subcortical fluid, cortical gray matter, limbic and nonlimbic cortex, and diencephalic structures were unaffected. These findings are compared with our recent MRI findings in two cases of FAS. In addition, the caudate-putamen and ventricular areas were assessed in rats exposed to alcohol prenatally. Whereas the overall brain section area was not reduced in size, the area of the caudate-putamen was reduced and that of the ventricles was enlarged.

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