*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
Alcohol poses the greatest threat to brain health at three periods of a person’s life, according to new research.
During those three periods — from conception to birth, from ages 15 to 19, and after age 65 — people undergo “dynamic” brain changes that may be particularly sensitive to the harmful effects of alcohol, researchers say.
More than 20% of teens ages 15-19 in wealthy nations report at least occasional binge drinking.
Research shows that binge drinking in the teen years is associated with reduced brain volume, poorer white matter development (critical for efficient brain functioning), and small to moderate shortfalls in a number of mental functions, the authors said.
How the COVID-19 pandemic will affect alcohol use is unclear, but there have been long-term increases in drinking after other major public health crises, according to the authors.
They said an integrated approach to reducing alcohol-related harm at all ages is needed.