Having just ONE drink while pregnant can change your baby's facial features 3 years ago

Having just ONE drink while pregnant can change your baby's facial features

Experts have long since warned that when it comes to alcohol and pregnancy, the only safe limit is avoiding it completely.

But despite this being common knowledge this day in age, this does not stop many, many women still indulging in a glass of wine while expecting – with Ireland having the world’s highest rate of women drinking alcohol while pregnant.

In fact, according to recent research, 60.4 percent of Irish women continue to drink when they are expecting a baby, amounting to six times the global average of one in 10.

However, the results from this new study should be enough to put a stopper for that even for those most reluctant to stay away from alcohol while pregnant.

According to a new Australian study, researchers found evidence that even  small amounts of alcohol while pregnant can affect the look of a baby's face.

That's right – even the smallest intake of alcohol can change your baby's facial features.

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And although the scientists are keen to stress that the changes are subtle, purely aesthetic, and not yet known to be harmful or affect cognitive development, this is still a pretty significant find.

The project, which was lead by public health genetics expert Jane Halliday at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Australia, studied 1570 mothers over the course of 12 months, 470 of whom had reported continuing to drink small amounts while pregnant.

When the babies of these mothers were 12 months old, the researchers took 3D photos detailing 70,000 different points on their faces. Through analysis, they found subtle commonalities in the faces of the babies whose mothers had continued with low levels of alcohol consumption throughout pregnancy, including a slightly shorter, more upturned nose, and other subtleties in the eyes and mouths.

From previous research it is already known that fetal alcohol syndrome from heavy drinking while pregnant causes distinct facial features such as small eye openings and shorter, upturned noses, in addition to attention and behavioral development issues and lower IQ. And though the findings from Halliday's study did not point to any developmental or behavioral issues related to low levels of alcohol consumption yet, the clinical significance is still to be determined.

"A link between these facial changes and brain structure and functioning remains to be investigated," the study stated. The researcher's conclusion was that because "any alcohol consumption has consequences on craniofacial development," "complete abstinence from alcohol while pregnant is the safest option."