Another Reason to Avoid Alcohol During Pregnancy

Even low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure may change baby's face shape

(RxWiki News) Even low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure may change the shape of the baby's face, according to a new study.

The authors of this study pointed out that babies who have been exposed to large amounts of alcohol in the womb may share certain facial characteristics. But little research has looked at whether even low levels of alcohol exposure could change babies' faces.

This study looked at 415 white babies in Australia and found that low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure — even in the first trimester — could result in facial changes.

"Regions of difference were concentrated around the midface, nose, lips, and eyes," the study authors wrote. "Directional visualization showed that these differences corresponded to general recession of the midface and superior displacement of the nose, especially the tip of the nose, indicating shortening of the nose and upturning of the nose tip."

The study authors noted that the health effects of these facial changes were not yet clear. In addition, the clinical significance of these results are yet to be determined. Still, they wrote, "... for women who are or may become pregnant, avoiding alcohol is the safest option."

This study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Information on study funding sources and potential conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.