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Dr. Elizabeth Sowell interviewed by Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on the topic of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.


Can I Drink While Pregnant? Brain Imaging Expert Weighs In

During the month of August, two publications delved into the decades-old debate questioning exactly how drastically a mother’s activities while pregnant affect her child in the future—specifically in terms of alcohol consumption. We asked Elizabeth Sowell, PhD, director of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Professor of Pediatrics at the USC Keck School of Medicine, to share her thoughts:

Dr. Sowell, you’ve dedicated two decades to studying alcohol’s impact on brain development. How has this field evolved over the years?

Originally, a fetal alcohol syndrome diagnosis depended on identifying tell-tale markers such as malformed facial features, smaller head size, neurocognitive impairment and growth restrictions. But now, the numerous effects of prenatal alcohol exposure have been recognized as a spectrum of diagnoses among specialists —much like autism spectrum disorders. Fetal alcohol syndrome, as defined in 1973 by my friend and colleague Ken Jones, is now considered to be at the severe end of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Read the full interview on the ResearCHLA Blog at http://researchlablog.org.