Credit: © Romolo Tavani / Fotolia

Credit: © Romolo Tavani / Fotolia

Drinking while pregnant could have consequences for generations

Drinking while pregnant could have consequences for generations, according to the latest research from University of California, Riverside.

All pregnant mothers have heard the warnings about avoiding alcohol while pregnant. Drinking while pregnant can lead to many serious health conditions in newborns, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Scientists have found yet another reason why pregnant women should not drink. Not only can drinking affect their unborn children, but in can impact brain development and make repercussions future grand children and even great children.

Traditionally, prenatal ethanol exposure (PrEE) from maternal consumption of alcohol, was thought to solely impact directly exposed offspring, the embryo or fetus in the womb. However, we now have evidence that the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure could persist transgenerationally and negatively impact the next-generations of offspring who were never exposed to alcohol,” said Kelly Huffman, psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside.

Science Daily reports on the study details:

To determine whether the abnormalities in brain and behavior from prenatal ethanol exposure would pass transgenerationally, Huffman generated a mouse model of FASD and tested many aspects of brain and behavioral development across three generations. As expected, the first generation, the directly exposed offspring, showed atypical gene expression, abnormal development of the neural network within the neocortex and behavioral deficits. However, the main discovery of the research lies in the subsequent, non-exposed generations of mice. These animals had neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems similar to the those of the first, directly exposed generation.

We found that body weight and brain size were significantly reduced in all generations of PrEE animals when compared to controls; all generations of PrEE mice showed increased anxiety-like, depressive-like behaviors and sensory-motor deficits. By demonstrating the strong transgenerational effects of prenatal ethanol exposure in a mouse model of FASD, we suggest that FASD may be a heritable condition in humans,” Huffman said.

The study showing that drinking while pregnant could have consequences for generations was published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

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1. “Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant Could Have Transgenerational Effects.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 10 July 2017.
2. “Prenatal Ethanol Exposure and Neocortical Development: A Transgenerational Model of FASD.” Cerebral Cortex. Oxford University Press, 06 July 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.

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