Prenatal exposure to alcohol causes enduring brain damage



Phillips W (2015) Prenatal exposure to alcohol causes enduring brain damage. Adoption and Fostering, 39 (3), pp. 201-211.

This article summarises recent discoveries showing how prenatal exposure to alcohol affects the structure and function of the brain and of the individual neurons from which it is built. It explains why this weakens the ability to select activities that are appropriate in the context of current circumstances. It also explains why this reduces the ability to suppress habitual, automatic or impulsive responses when they are inappropriate. These effects of alcohol on the brain lead to enduring impairments in cognition, planning and self-control that become more obvious at later stages of child development. The complexities of these processes and the limitations of current knowledge are acknowledged. The article concludes that many of the enduring cognitive, emotional and social impairments associated with prenatal exposure to alcohol are the expected consequences of the effects that such exposure is known to have on the developing brain. © 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.

Adoption and Fostering: Volume 39, Issue 3

Publication date31/10/2015
Publication date online28/09/2015

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Professor Bill Phillips

Professor Bill Phillips

Emeritus Professor, Psychology