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Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and the Developing Immune System

Most Americans are aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can injure the developing fetus. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), with their developmental, cognitive, and behavioral consequences, probably are the best known dangers (Bakoyiannis et al. 2014; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] 2009). However, drinking during pregnancy also can...

In Utero Alcohol Exposure, Epigenetic Changes, and Their Consequences

Alcohol exposure of the developing embryo and fetus in utero can have a wide range of detrimental effects collectively referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Researchers are intensively investigating the mechanisms that may contribute to alcohol’s effects on the developing organism and to the resulting consequences, particularly with respect to the cognitive and behavioral...

Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: From Animal Models to Human Studies

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can interfere with both embryonic and fetal development, producing a wide range of outcomes that fall under the rubric of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). FASD is the nondiagnostic umbrella term used to refer to the full range of effects that can occur following prenatal alcohol exposure. Such exposure can produce a variety of effects, including...

Maternal Substance Use: Consequences, Identification, and Interventions

Alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis are the substances most frequently used during pregnancy, and opioid-exposed pregnancies have increased fourfold. The purpose of this review is to describe the prevalence and consequences of prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and opioids. Currently available screening questionnaires for prenatal substance use are summarized and contrasted with the...

Genetic and Genomic Web Resources for Research on Alcohol Use and Abuse

There are two major ways of publishing scientific data and results: (1) the standard peer-reviewed paper, which dates back to volume 1 of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1665; and (2) online distribution of data, resources, and software using the Internet that dates back a mere 21 years to the first Web site at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)...

Early Life Stress as a Predictor of Co-Occurring Alcohol Use Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

During the critical developmental periods of childhood when neural plasticity is high, exposure to early life stress (ELS) or trauma may lead to enduring changes in physiological stress systems and enhanced vulnerability for psychopathological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) in adulthood. Clinical and preclinical studies have sought to...

The Influence of Gender and Sexual Orientation on Alcohol Use and Alcohol-Related Problems: Toward a Global Perspective

The prevalence of alcohol use and the contrast between the drinking patterns of men and women vary widely across the globe. For instance, rates of current drinking ranged from 3 percent and 37 percent for women and men, respectively, in the Indian state of Karnataka to 94 percent and 97 percent for women and men in Denmark (Wilsnack et al. 2009). Overall, however, men have higher rates of...

Alcohol-Related Disparities Among Women: Evidence and Potential Explanations

Although research on alcohol-related disparities among women is a highly understudied area, evidence shows that racial/ethnic minority women, sexual minority women, and women of low socioeconomic status (based on education, income, or residence in disadvantaged neighborhoods) are more likely to experience alcohol-related problems. These problems include alcohol use disorder, particularly after...

Treatment Interventions for Women With Alcohol Use Disorder

Women with alcohol use disorder (AUD) experience more barriers to AUD treatment and are less likely to access treatment than men with AUD. A literature review identified several barriers to women seeking help: low perception of a need for treatment; guilt and shame; co-occurring disorders; employment, economic, and health insurance disparities; childcare responsibilities; and fear of child...

Alcohol Consumption in Demographic Subpopulations: An Epidemiologic Overview

Alcohol consumption is common across diverse populations in the United States; however, the level of consumption and its consequences vary considerably across major demographic subgroups. This review presents findings on the distribution and determinants of alcohol use and its aspects (i.e., age of onset, abstention vs. any drinking, binge drinking, and heavy drinking), alcohol abuse and depende...