Underage Drinking Can Lead To Adult Brain Abnormalities, Reveals New Research

Pam Wright

According to a recent study conducted by Duke University, scientists determined that underage drinking can lead to abnormalities in the adult brain.

The study on underage drinking, specifically on adolescent alcohol consumption, was published in the June 2015 edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The study discussed in the article, entitled "Adolescent Intermittent Alcohol Exposure: Persistence of Structural and Functional Hippocampal Abnormalities into Adulthood," was conducted on rats. It determined that exposure to alcohol on the developing adolescent mind can lead to a number of health issues.

"Human adolescence is a crucial stage of neurological development during which ethanol consumption is often at its highest. Alcohol abuse during adolescence may render individuals at heightened risk for subsequent alcohol abuse disorders, cognitive dysfunction, or other neurological impairments by irreversibly altering long-term brain function."

Underage drinking is declining, according to the Inquisitr, but it is still prevalent throughout the United States and continues to be a major health issue.

Underage drinking can lead to alcoholism, binge drinking, and health risks. #stopteendrinking http://t.co/7dvhSdAFuV pic.twitter.com/NFdBWWU9I3

— ILLiquorControl (@ILLiquorControl) June 28, 2015

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of underage drinkers is still more common than cigarettes or illicit drugs.

"Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs, and is responsible for more than 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth."

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, by the time children reach the eighth grade, nearly 50 percent of adolescents have had at least one drink, and over 20 percent report having been "drunk."

The CDC's website reports that underage drinkers aged 12 to 20 years drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States, with more than 90 percent of this alcohol consumed in the form of binge drinks.

The consequences of underage drinking last a LIFETIME. #stopunderagedrinking http://t.co/khmt8bAnDR pic.twitter.com/ZpSCiaGU83

— ILLiquorControl (@ILLiquorControl) June 28, 2015

Underage drinkers reportedly consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.

According to the recent study, this drinking is having a profound effect on the minds of the nation's future generation because of the affects of alcohol on the hippocampus, which plays an important role in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and in spatial navigation.

"Taken together, these findings reveal that repeated alcohol exposure during adolescence results in enduring structural and functional abnormalities in the hippocampus. These synaptic changes in the hippocampal circuits may help to explain learning-related behavioral changes in adult animals preexposed to AIE."

The health risks associated with underage drinking is long and includes legal, learning, and social problems.

[Photo via Twitter/ILLiquorControl]