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1.  Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Alterations in Brain and Behaviour 
The term ‘Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)’ refers to the range of disabilities that may result from prenatal alcohol exposure. This article reviews the effects of ethanol on the developing brain and its long-term structural and neurobehavioural consequences. Brain imaging, neurobehavioural and experimental studies demonstrate the devastating consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure on the developing central nervous system (CNS), identifying specific brain regions affected, the range of severity of effects and mechanisms involved. In particular, neuroimaging studies have demonstrated overall and regional volumetric and surface area reductions, abnormalities in the shape of particular brain regions, and reduced and increased densities for white and grey matter, respectively. Neurobehaviourally, FASD consists of a continuum of long-lasting deficits affecting multiple aspects of cognition and behaviour. Experimental studies have also provided evidence of the vulnerability of the CNS to the teratogenic effects of ethanol and have provided new insight on the influence of risk factors in the type and severity of observed brain abnormalities. Finally, the potential molecular mechanisms that underlie the neuroteratological effects of alcohol are discussed, with particular emphasis on the role of glial cells in long-term neurodevelopmental liabilities.
PMCID: PMC2724862  PMID: 19147799

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