NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - March 22, 2012) - One does not have to be an expectant mother to know that the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy is strongly shunned. The realities of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are well known to most everyone, and all beginner parenting classes and books stress the importance of abstaining from drinking alcohol while the fetus is developing. A new study hammers home these points, claiming that alcohol actually does more harm to a developing child than cocaine and marijuana do. According to neuroscientist Michael W. Miller, however, this claim should be considered with extreme caution.
Michael W. Miller, a renowned researcher and author, says the new study's data should be interpreted carefully. The study's findings indicate that kids who were exposed to alcohol in utero tend to have lower IQ scores, while those exposed to cocaine and marijuana are seemingly not affected. While the message that alcohol consumption during a pregnancy can significantly harm fetuses is a good one, Michael W. Miller says the study also gives the impression that cocaine use during pregnancy is safe -- and that is not a good message.
"Using the yardstick of IQ may suggest that alcohol is more devastating, but these findings should be interpreted with caution. Gestational exposure to non-alcohol drug abuse may be more or equally damaging to behaviors that are not readily expressed in the IQ test," explains Michael W. Miller. "That is, exposure to any drug of abuse during pregnancy is potentially harmful."
Indeed, while the study suggests that alcohol is "worse than cocaine" for the development of a child, this claim is only measured in terms of IQ test results. But as Michael W. Miller points out, narcotic abuse, such as marijuana or cocaine, can have significant effects in other areas. So-called "crack babies" are addicted from birth, and can also experience major behavioral problems.
These complications are not measured by IQ tests, but they are no less severe. While the study is helpful in illuminating the dangers of alcohol consumption, Michael W. Miller says its implications that cocaine use is somehow "safe" should be taken with a grain of salt.
Michael W. Miller is a neuroscientist with a long, successful career as a researcher, professor, and author. He has taught neuroscience and biology at many prestigious universities, including the University of Iowa, Tulane University, and the State University of New York. He earned a PhD at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and has conducted extensive research into the effects of drugs and alcohol on the developing central nervous system.