Mothers Alcohol Consumption Before and During Pregnancy Linked to Childs Face Shapes Changes
Published: 2023-02-16 - Updated: 2023-05-18
Author: European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology - Contact: ricemasonnoble.eu
Journal Reference: DOI Link to the Study Paper
Related Papers: Latest Items - Full List
Synopsis: Among mothers who drank throughout pregnancy, even if they drank less than 12g weekly, association between alcohol exposure and children's facial shape could be observed. A child's exposure to alcohol before birth can significantly affect their healthy development. If a mother regularly drinks a large amount, this can result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, FASD, which is reflected in children's faces. The researchers used AI and deep learning to analyze three-dimensional images of children taken at the ages of nine (3149 children) and 13 (2477 children).
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person exposed to alcohol before birth. Alcohol in the mother's blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including all wines and beer. FASD effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning. Often, a person with an FASD has a mix of these problems. Alcohol can cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy, including before a woman knows she's pregnant.
Association Between Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Children's Facial Shape: A Prospective Population-Based Cohort Study - Human Reproduction.
Researchers have used artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning technology to find a link between alterations in the shape of children's faces and the amount of alcohol their mothers drank before becoming pregnant and during pregnancy.
The study, which is published in Human Reproduction , one of the world's leading reproductive medicine journals, is the first to detect this association in the children of mothers who drank alcohol up to three months before becoming pregnant but stopped during pregnancy. In addition, it found the association with altered face shape existed even if mothers drank less than 12g of alcohol a week - the equivalent of a small 175 ml glass of wine or 330 ml of beer.
The finding is important because the shape of children's faces can indicate health and developmental problems.
Gennady Roshchupkin, assistant professor and leader of the computational population biology group at Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, who led the study, said:
"I would call the face a 'health mirror' as it reflects the overall health of a child. A child's exposure to alcohol before birth can significantly affect their healthy development. If a mother regularly drinks a large amount, this can result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, FASD, which is reflected in children's faces."
FASD combines growth retardation, neurological impairment, and recognizably abnormal facial development. Symptoms include cognitive impairment, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning difficulties, memory problems, behavioral problems, and speech and language delays. FASD is already known to be caused by a mother's hefty drinking during pregnancy. However, until now, little was known about the effect of low alcohol consumption on children's facial development and, therefore, their health. This is also the first study to examine the question in children from multiple ethnic backgrounds.
The researchers used AI and deep learning to analyze three-dimensional images of children taken at the ages of nine (3149 children) and 13 (2477 children). The children were part of the Generation R Study in The Netherlands, an ongoing population-based study of pregnant women and their children from fetal life onwards. The children in this analysis were born between April 2009 and January 2006.
"The face is a complex shape, and analyzing it is a challenging task. 3D imaging helps a lot but requires more advanced algorithms to do this," said Prof. Roshchupkin. "For this task, we developed an AI-based algorithm that takes high-resolution 3D images of the face and produces 200 unique measurements or 'traits.' We analyzed these to search for associations with prenatal alcohol exposure, and we developed heat maps to display the particular facial features associated with the mother's alcohol consumption."
Information on the mothers' alcohol consumption was gained from questionnaires completed by the women in early, mid-, and late pregnancy. The researchers divided them into three groups: mothers who did not drink before or during pregnancy (the control group), mothers who drank during the three months before becoming pregnant but stopped when they became pregnant, and mothers who drank during pregnancy, including those who only drank during the first trimester of pregnancy, and those who continued to drink throughout pregnancy.
"We found a statistically significant association between prenatal alcohol exposure and face shape in the nine-year-old children. The more alcohol the mothers drank, the more statistically significant changes there were. The most common traits were turned-up nose tip, shortened nose, turned-out chin, and turned-in lower eyelid," said Mr. Xianjing Liu, first author of the study and a Ph.D. student in Prof. Roshchupkin's group, who developed the AI algorithm.
"Among the mothers who drank throughout pregnancy, we found that even if mothers drank very little, less than 12 g a week, the association between alcohol exposure and children's facial shape could be observed. This is the first time an association has been shown at such low levels of alcohol consumption."
The link between alcohol consumption and face shape weakened in older children; no significant association was found when the researchers looked at data for children aged 13 years.
"It is possible that as child ages and experiences other environmental factors, these changes may diminish or be obscured by normal growth patterns. But that does not mean alcohol's effect on health will also disappear. Therefore, it is crucial to emphasize that there is no established safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and that it is advisable to cease drinking alcohol even before conception to ensure optimal health outcomes for both the mother and the developing fetus," said Prof. Roshchupkin. "Further investigations on the association mechanism are needed to understand how the association develops and weakens with age fully."
In the nine-year-old's, researchers found statistically significant facial traits were associated with mothers' alcohol consumption when they compared those who drank before pregnancy but stopped on becoming pregnant with mothers who continued drinking throughout pregnancy.
They also looked at data for women who drank during the first trimester but then stopped and those who continued to drink. The results were similar, which suggests that the associations were explained mainly by the fetus's exposure to alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy.
The researchers write that previous studies of childhood development after prenatal alcohol exposure have suggested that possible mechanisms of action may be metabolic disorders in the mothers, such as problems with blood sugar levels and fatty liver disease, and that this could also explain the link with the face shape. However, further investigations are needed.
A strength of the study is the large number of children from multiple ethnic backgrounds. Limitations include that there were no data on alcohol consumption more than three months before pregnancy and that mothers may not have completed the questionnaire about their drinking habits correctly, possibly underestimating their consumption. As this observational study cannot show that alcohol consumption causes changes in face shapes, only that it is associated with them.
 "Association between prenatal alcohol exposure and children's facial shape: a prospective population-based cohort study," by X. Liu et al. Human Reproduction journal.
This peer reviewed article relating to our AI and Disabilities section was selected for publishing by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "Mothers Alcohol Consumption Before and During Pregnancy Linked to Childs Face Shapes Changes" was originally written by European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, and published by Disabled-World.com on 2023-02-16 (Updated: 2023-05-18). Should you require further information or clarification, European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology can be contacted at ricemasonnoble.eu. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.
Share This Information To:
𝕏.com Facebook Reddit
Discover Related Topics:
Disabled World is an independent disability community founded in 2004 to provide disability news and information to people with disabilities, seniors, their family and/or carers. See our homepage for informative reviews, exclusive stories and how-tos. You can connect with us on social media such as X.com and our Facebook page. Disabled World provides general information only. The materials presented are never meant to substitute for qualified professional medical care, nor should they be construed as such. Funding is derived from advertisements or referral programs. Any 3rd party offering or advertising does not constitute an endorsement.
Information, Citing and Disclaimer
Permalink: <a href="https://www.disabled-world.com/assistivedevices/ai/fasd-face-shape.php">Mothers Alcohol Consumption Before and During Pregnancy Linked to Childs Face Shapes Changes</a>
Cite This Page (APA): European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. (2023, February 16). Mothers Alcohol Consumption Before and During Pregnancy Linked to Childs Face Shapes Changes. Disabled World. Retrieved September 27, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/assistivedevices/ai/fasd-face-shape.php
Disabled World is an independent disability community founded in 2004 to provide disability news and information to people with disabilities, seniors, their family and/or carers. See our homepage for informative reviews, exclusive stories and how-tos. You can connect with us on social media such as X.com and our Facebook page.
Disabled World provides general information only. The materials presented are never meant to substitute for qualified professional medical care, nor should they be construed as such. Funding is derived from advertisements or referral programs. Any 3rd party offering or advertising does not constitute an endorsement.