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Oh Rats! Alcohol may harm Generations of Pregnant Women

Posted: Friday, 26 February 2016 18:31


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Oh Rats! Alcohol may harm Generations of Pregnant Women

Feb 26: An American study at Binghamton University conducted on rats claims to have found that drinking even small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of alcohol dependency in the next three generations with the alcohol acting as a toxin, affecting the different stages of foetal development throughout pregnancy

Researchers have shown that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can have trans-generational effects on rats, impacting not only the fetus directly exposed but also the future generations.

Scientists gave pregnant female rats alcohol equivalent to one glass of wine for four consecutive days-between the 17th and 20th days of gestation -- equivalent to the second trimester in humans. They then tested the behaviour of the offspring of the rats when juvenile, when faced with water and alcohol. Their sensitivity to alcohol was measured by injecting a high dose of alcohol to cause intoxication, then measuring the time it took the rats to recover.

The study showed that drinking alcohol during pregnancy, even in low doses, increases the risk of alcoholism in the child and also in grandchildren.

"Our findings show that in the rat, when a mother consumes the equivalent of one glass of wine four times during the pregnancy, her offspring and grand-offspring, up to the third generation, show increased alcohol preference and less sensitivity to alcohol," said Dr. Cameron, assistant professor of psychology at Binghamton University.

Alcohol acts as a toxin, affecting the different stages of foetal development throughout pregnancy. The baby's nervous system is at particular risk, as alcohol directly attacks the developing neurons. This can cause physical malformations like a small head, a short, flat nose, or a thin upper lip. The suction reflex can also be diminished in newborns. Later, children can develop problems with learning and attention, hyperactivity and aggressive behaviour, and are at increased risk of alcohol dependency later in life.

The results have been published in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research journal

As most of studies, there is no peer analysis or details of the sponsors and how it was financed. The studies done on humans have generally indicated that a glass of wine (the recommended intake varies from 1-4 small glasses) a week, preferably half a glass at one time do not have any negative impact on the health of the child or the increased propensity for alcohol. A related Article in delWine corroborates this theory may be viewed on: Wine & Health: Wine and Pregnant Woman

Subhash Arora

With due respect to the study, it might be in order to ask that in all such studies there should be no conflict clause; the source of funds, the amount reimbursed and the possible conflicts must be disclosed at the time of giving out the result. Otherwise, the studies might not be as impactful or useful-editor

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