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Meet the researcher: Evi Muggli

Evi Muggli, Senior Research Officer:

My name is Evi Muggli and I'm the AQUA Study manager

AQUA, or asking questions about alcohol and pregnancy, is one of the world's largest long-term studies looking at possible effects on the unborn baby if the mother drank some alcohol during pregnancy.

Text displayed on the screen: Why is this research important?

Evi Muggli:

Alcohol can influence the development of a baby at any stage during pregnancyand this means that as a child grows, he or she may have lifelong difficulties with physical activity, learning and behaviour.

There is no known safe amount of alcohol that a pregnant women can drink and this is why the mothers in the AQUA study are part of a very normal population of pregnant women: they might have had the occasional drink or two, and one in five stopped drinking as soon as they found out that they were pregnant.

Text displayed on the screen: What has the study found so far?

Evi Muggli:

Over the years we've collected a lot of information on the children and their families' lifestyle and environment, and we are looking at everything very carefully. Our first important finding that we published was when the children were 12 months old. We took 3D photos of the children's faces and, using a complex mathematical analysis, we showed that alcohol in pregnancy can ever so slightly influence the way a baby's face is formed in the womb.

This is a pretty amazing finding because we know that the development of the face and brain are linked. What we don't know yet is whether these small changes in the children's facial shape are linked in any way to developmental differences. We are following this up at the moment now that the children have started school and a lot of demands are placed on their learning and their social and physical interactions.

We're very grateful to have so many committed AQUA study families to help us find out how the occasional drink in pregnancy affects long-term developmental outcomes of children.