Restriction on drinking alcohol is mostly the first recommendation for a would-be mother (especially those who are used to it). While doctors have already stated numerous reasons including FASD or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders before, researchers have recently come up with a new fact.
According to a new study, prenatal exposure to ethanol can cause abnormalities in a newborn’s brain and behavior which passes on to their many next generations.
Experts say, “Drinking alcohol affects not only the fetus, but also the offspring’s next few generations. People may find adverse outcomes in their grand and great grandchildren.”
Despite knowing the common facts, most women continue to drink alcohol (beer, wine or anything) during pregnancy. But scientists have brought to light this new reason for putting down that glass of wine.
“Prenatal ethanol exposure or PrEE from drinking alcohol whilst pregnant was traditionally believed to affect the offspring only. However, now we have clear evidence of PrEE impacting the generations of even your offspring,” said Kelly Huffman, the psychology professor at University of California.
The study was conducted on pregnant mice and their three following generations. Findings show that the brains (specifically the neocortex) of the offspring were poorly developed and they had an affected nervous system.
Alcohol exposure changes the DNA of the unborn negatively who carries it further to the next generations. Many other behavioral and biological changes have been found in the mice.
These defects of ethanol exposure effects were re-confirmed through a different study. This was furthermore confirmed when scientists examined another group of mice without having alcohol exposure.
Professor Huffman said, generations of PrEE group were born with significantly reduced brain size and body weight, compared to those who weren’t exposed to alcohol. With every generation of PrEE, the mice showed increased sensory motor deficits and behavior like stress, anxiety, and depression.
On asking how ethanol affects the genes of fetus, the professor explained – Alcohol sparks a chain of reaction in the fetus which leads to nervous system abnormalities. And any problem with this system causes mental and behavioral issues in the offspring.
Some of the already existing FASD occurring from drinking alcohol whilst pregnant includes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, Alcohol Related Birth Defects.
As their work did not specify the exact amount of alcohol consumption causing the genetic material to change, experts say, “There’s no such amount that is safe for the soon-to-be mother. It’s simply unsafe.”
The multi-level analysis of this research work is expected to give researchers the scope for further work on prevention.