Ethanol: Effect on Fetal Brain Growth and Development

  • Stanley E. Fisher

Abstract

There is good evidence that heavy ethanol use has a detrimental effect on the unborn. In recent years, the medical community has become aware of a syndrome consisting of mental retardation, prenatal and postnatal growth retardation, and numerous congenital anomalies associated with heavy maternal ethanol ingestion. This collection of abnormalities has been coined the fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The FAS was “rediscovered” recently by Lemonie et al.1 in France and by Jones et al.2 in the United States. The term “rediscovered” is appropriate since there are biblical references to the importance of abstinence during pregnancy, and Aristotle observed that “foolish and drunken and harebrained women most often bring forth children like unto themselves, morose and languid.”3 Moreover, in the early eighteenth century, during the British “gin epidemic,” a report to Parliament pointed out that parental drinking was a cause of “weak, feeble and distempered children.” In addition, Sullivan,4 in 1899, found that the death rate among children of alcoholic mothers was more than twice that among infants of sober women of the same social status. As a counterpoint, Sullivan did indicate that the environment to which these children were born was also a factor. In general, observations made prior to the turn of this century were ignored until the works of Lemonie et al.1 and Jones et al.2 rekindled interest in the FAS.

Keywords

Fetal Brain Alcohol Exposure Ethanol Exposure Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Postnatal Growth Retardation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanley E. Fisher
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsNorth Shore University Hospital, Cornell University Medical CollegeManhassetUSA

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