It’s time for the mothers-to-be to take note! In a study conducted at Binghamton University, USA, it has been found that the consumption of even small quantities of alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of alcohol dependency in the subsequent three generations.
Researchers examined the repercussions of alcohol consumption on pregnant women and other alcohol-related behavior on the following generations who were not directly exposed to alcohol in the womb. The study has shown, how, when pregnant ladies consume alcohol, it can lead to transgenerational effects, affecting not only the fetus but also the coming generations.
Pregnant female rats, who were the subjects of study, were given an equal dose of alcohol, i.e. one glass of wine for four days successively, between the 17th and 20th gestation days – equivalent to the second trimester in human beings. After this, the behavior of the rats’ juvenile offspring was tested when they were given a choice between water and alcohol.
Their sensitivity to alcohol was examined by intoxicating them with a heavy dose of alcohol using a needle. Then the scientists measured a number of time rats took to recover their senses and come back to their four paws.
The findings proved that consumption of alcohol by the pregnant women, even in small amount, increases the alcoholism risk not only in the child present in their wombs but also in the generations to come.
Dr. Cameron, the assistant professor of psychology at the University of Binghamton, said that their findings reveal the fact that when a mother drinks the equivalent of one glass of wine four times at the time of pregnancy, her offspring, and grand-offspring, up to the third generation, exhibit increased preference for alcohol and less sensitivity towards it.
Alcohol upon entering a pregnant woman’s body behaves as a toxin, thus, influencing the various stages of fetal development throughout pregnancy. The nervous system of the baby involves certain risks, as alcohol directly attacks the developing neurons. This can lead to physical abnormalities such as a small head, a flat, short nose or a thin upper lip. The suction reflex can also be minimized in infants. Soon after, the children can develop issues with attention and learning, along with exhibiting aggressive behavior and hyperactivity, while increasing the risk of addiction to alcohol later in their lives.
This study was published in the journal called Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.