How Moderate Alcohol Consumption Before and During Pregnancy Can Change Child’s Face Shape

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By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

There are quite a few child celebrities who have spoken about how their actor or celeb parents had consumed copious amounts of alcohol prior to their birth. And interestingly, it did lead to certain distinctive traits in one’s character or personality. Recently, a study has been the first to talk about the conjunction between those kids whose mothers drank alcohol before and during pregnancy of said children, with facial disfigurements. In fact, in certain cases, the face shape would be altered even if the amount of alcohol that was consumed amounted to far less than a tiny glass of wine- or even a beer can.

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Alcohol Consumption And The Face Shape Of A Child Are Intrinsically Connected

The research mentions that the facial shape of a child can be a good indicator of the child’s developmental health which has been well-documented as a part of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. This disorder states that heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy usually leaves a lot of signs behind in the child. The lead author of the study, Gennady Roshchupkin, went on to extrapolate that one could consider the face to be a health mirror- as it would aptly reflect the overall growth and development of a child. Roshchupkin, for those who are curious, is also an assistant professor and the leader of the computational population biology group at Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam. 

The author claimed that continued proximity to alcohol during and before birth can leave several significant adverse effects on the development of the child- be it mental, or physical. In fact, if a mother were to consume a large amount of alcohol during pregnancy, this could easily result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder- which becomes evident in children’s faces. In order to authenticate this idea, researchers also used artificial intelligence, as well as deep learning technology that would help them search for patterns. This would help correlate the face shape of a child with the alcohol consumption of their mother. This resulted in the group using 3D scans of thousands of participants aged nine and 13 from the longitudinal Generation R Study in the Netherlands.

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Tier 1: drinking only before pregnancy, Tier 2a: drinking during first trimester but abstinent during trimesters 2 and 3, Tier 2b: drinking throughout pregnancy. Red indicated inward changes while blue indicates outward changes. Image credit: Human Reproduction journal

The Connection Is Still Present If The Mother Consumes Very Little Alcohol 

The first author of this alcohol consumption study, Xianjing Liu, stated that there was a statistically significant association between the face shape of a nine-year-old child, and prenatal alcohol exposure. The Ph.D. student, who developed the entire algorithm, mentioned that the more the mothers drank, the more significant the changes were seen to be. The most common of these changes were shortened nose, turned up nose tip, turned in lower eyelids, and turned out chins. Liu also said that even if the mothers drank very little, the association could still be observed. Interestingly, this was the first time when an association could be made at such minuscule levels of consumption. 


As the ages of the children increased, the connection between their face shape and the alcohol consumption of their mothers tapered off. But researchers have mentioned that this doesn’t necessarily imply that the children aren’t affected by any other health problems at all. In certain cases of FASD, exposure to alcohol often leads to neurological disorders, memory troubles, and abnormalities in facial development.

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