Teenage binge-drinking could influence brain into adulthood
By Sravanth Verma
April 29, 2015
New research on rats, supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that adolescent binge drinking can disrupt gene regulation and brain development.
Such individuals’ brains may show structural and functional abnormalities in the hippo campus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. In the study, adolescent rats that were given alcohol in large amounts were seen to suffer from memory, attention and judgment problems. What’s more, the hippo campus appeared to be more easily damaged during trauma or disease.
According to a study conducted by the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, in 2005, around 90% of alcohol consumption among individuals younger than 21, was consumed in binge drinking.
According to the NIAAA, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), binge drinking is any bout of alcohol consumption that leads to a blood alcohol concentration over 0.08 grams per deciliter of blood. Usually, this results when men consume over five drinks, and women four drinks, in under two hours.
According to the British National Health Services, bringing down alcohol consumption has benefits such as more energy, fewer heart problems, better sleep patterns and more enduring relationships.
Mary-Louise Risher, lead author and post-doctoral researcher in the Duke Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences described how the law’s idea of alcohol consumption differs from what medical research has thrown up. “In the eyes of the law, once people reach the age of 18, they are considered adult, but the brain continues to mature and refine all the way into the mid-20s,” she said. “It’s important for young people to know that when they drink heavily during this period of development, there could be changes occurring that have a lasting impact on memory and other cognitive functions,” she added.
The study titled “Adolescent Intermittent Alcohol Exposure: Persistence of Structural and Functional Hippocampal Abnormalities into Adulthood” was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research