A new study finds that consuming alcohol during pregnancy, as early as 3-4 weeks even before a women could expect pregnancy, may lead to alteration in the gene functioning of the Brain and may pave way into long-term changes in the Brain structure of the offspring.
The study, conducted in mice and published in the journal PLOS ONE, also identified changes in gene functioning in other body tissues as a result of alcohol consumption in early pregnancy.
The research team, led by Dr. Nina Kaminen-Ahola of the University of Helsinki in Finland, says their findings indicate that alcohol exposure in early pregnancy may cause lifelong changes to gene regulation in embryonic stem cells – the earliest cells to emerge from a developing embryo.
Alcoholic consumption during pregnancy may cause various ill effects to the offspring including growth restriction, intellectual and learning disabilities, poor memory, poor coordination and speech and language delays.
To reach their findings, the team fed alcohol to a group of pregnant mice during the first 8 days of gestation – the equivalent to 3-4 weeks of gestation in humans – and analyzed its effects on the epigenome of offspring.
Specifically, the researchers focused on how early alcohol exposure during pregnancy influenced the epigenome of the hippocampus among offspring – the brain region that plays a crucial role in memory and learning.
Henceforth, Alcohol consumption plays a damaging role in the individual growth of the offspring and women addicted to the alcohol consumption may levy unproductive illness to their offspring, the MNT reports.