A new study finds that a pregnant woman’s drinking can affect her fetus’ ability to learn inside the womb. Researchers from the Queen’s University of Belfast studied 80 pregnant women and measured a process called “habituation”—how long it takes a fetus to become accustomed to a repeated sound. Habituation is a basic form of learning that indicates how the brain detects and responds to new stimuli. The research found that the fetuses of heavy drinkers took longer to habituate to the sound. Fetuses whose mothers did not drink or drank moderately stopped responding to the sound after hearing it 17 times. Fetuses whose mothers engaged in binge drinking stopped responding to the sound after hearing it 20 times. This indicates that a mother’s drinking can acutely affect the brain of her developing fetus, although it is not clear that the fetus’ response indicates long-term consequences.