Para-limbic Structural Abnormalities Are Associated With Internalizing Symptoms in Children With Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Alyssa M. Krueger, Donovan J. Roediger, Bryon A. Mueller, Christopher A. Boys, Timothy J. Hendrickson, Mariah J. Schumacher, Sarah N. Mattson, Kenneth L. Jones, Edward P. Riley, Kelvin O. Lim, Jeffrey R. Wozniak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) is associated with a variety of structural abnormalities in the brain, including several within the para-limbic system. Children with PAE have higher rates of internalizing disorders, including depression and anxiety, which may be related to underlying limbic system anomalies. Methods: Children aged 8 to 16 with PAE (n = 41) or without PAE (n = 36) underwent an magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and parents completed behavioral questionnaires about their children. Semi-automated procedures (FreeSurfer) were used to derive para-limbic volumes from T1-weighted anatomical images. Results: There were significant group differences (PAE vs. nonexposed controls) in the caudate, hippocampus, and the putamen; children with PAE had smaller volumes in these regions even after controlling for total intracranial volume. A trend-level association was seen between caudate volume and internalizing symptoms in children with PAE; smaller caudate volumes (presumably reflecting less optimal neurodevelopment) were associated with higher levels of anxiety and depression symptoms in these children. Conclusions: Caudate structure may be disproportionately affected by PAE and may be associated with the later development of internalizing symptoms in those affected by PAE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1598-1608
Number of pages11
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
All of this work was done in conjunction with the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD), which is funded by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Additional information about CIFASD can be found at . Support for this research was provided by the NIAAA (5U01AA026102, 5U01AA014834, 5U24AA014815, 5U24AA014811, 5U24AA014815‐16, and 3U24AA014815‐16S1), the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB P41 EB027061), the Biotechnology Research Center (P41 EB015 894), the NINDS Institutional Center Core Grants to Support Neuroscience Research (P30 NS076408), and the High Performance Connectome Upgrade for Human 3T MR Scanner (1S10OD017974‐01).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Research Society on Alcoholism


  • Anxiety
  • Brain
  • Children
  • Depression
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

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