Traditionally, it is known that alcohol consumption affects the fetus of an alcoholic mother. Mothers are encouraged to stay away from any form of alcohol. However, the effect of alcohol consumption in pregnancy may be far reaching than originally believed.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can affect the health of your great-grandchildren, a new research has suggested.
As part of a new study, researchers exposed pregnant mice to alcohol and observed the behaviour of the three following generations of mice.
Scientists found that the offspring of mice that had been exposed to alcohol tended to have poorly developed brains and problems with their nervous system.
But, surprisingly, many of these defects persisted in subsequent generations of mice, which had not directly been exposed to alcohol.
The findings suggest that consuming alcohol during pregnancy may negatively alter the genetic material of the fetus, which can then be inherited by future generations.
Kelly Huffman, psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside retorts,
‘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.’
As part of the study, the researchers exposed pregnant mice to alcohol, and then examined the effects on future generations.
They found that the offspring of mice that had been exposed to alcohol showed a number of biological and behavioural defects.
Defects included abnormal genetic activity, poor development of the neocortex of the brain and behavioural deficits.
But, surprisingly, many of these defects persisted in subsequent generations of mice, which had not been exposed to alcohol during fetal development.
To understand if these defects were linked to alcohol exposure, they also studied a control group of mice which had not been exposed to alcohol.
‘We found that body weight and brain size were significantly reduced in all generations of PrEE animals when compared to controls,’ said Professor Huffman.
‘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.’
Alcohol Affects Fetuses:
Alcohol affects the development of the fetus by sparking a chain reaction in the body which leads to abnormalities in the nervous system.
And problems with the nervous system can lead to a range of mental and behavioural problems, including anxiety and depression, according to researchers.
The research suggest that consuming alcohol during pregnancy may negatively alter the genetic material of the fetus, which can then be inherited by future generations, in this case the second or third generation.
This findings suggests that drinking during pregnancy could affect your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the researchers said.
The research did not investigate how much alcohol is needed to negatively alter the genetic material of future generations, and it was unclear whether any brand of alcohol is worse than others.
Source: Daily Mail