Women who consume just FIVE alcoholic drinks around the time of conception ‘at greater risk of having an obese child’
Drinking five standard alcoholic drinks around conception increases risk
Scientists discovered alcohol altered the development of lab rat’s foetuses
Warn before the egg implants alcohol consumption can be damaging
Found increased risk of offspring being obese or suffering type 2 diabetes
Source: Daily Mail
By Sophie Freeman
30 July 2015
Women who drink alcohol around the time they become pregnant dramatically increase the odds that their baby will become fat in later life, according to a study.
The children are much more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and obesity in early middle age, the researchers from the University of Queensland said.
Using lab rats, the scientists discovered that the equivalent of five standard alcohol drinks consumed around the time of conception altered the development of the foetus.
‘Before the egg implants, before any organs start to develop, alcohol consumption somehow causes changes to the embryo,’ said Dr Karen Moritz.
‘Anything that affects foetal development can cause long-term programming, which means offspring can be born with increased risk and susceptibility to disease later in life.
‘Monitoring the offspring of the laboratory rat model, we found the risk of becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes in early middle age dramatically increased.
‘The usual risk factors of these two diseases are attributed to poor diet and lack of exercise, but our research showed exposure to alcohol around conception presents a risk similar to following a high-fat diet for a major proportion of life.’
For the study, the researchers fed one group of rats a diet containing alcohol, from four days before conception until four days’ gestation.
A group of control rats were fed a diet containing no alcohol, but matched to ensure it contained the same amount of calories as the experimental rats’ diet.
At the age of six months, the experimental rats’ offspring showed elevated levels of fasting plasma glucose (raised blood sugar levels) and decreased insulin sensitivity, indicating diabetes.
‘Given many women may drink alcohol while planning a pregnancy, it is crucial to increase public awareness regarding the effects of alcohol consumption around conception on offspring health,’ the researchers concluded in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Dr Moritz said her future research will focus on the possibility of giving expectant mothers something that will lessen the obesity-causing effects of the alcohol.
‘One possibility is giving some type of nutrient to the mother, even in later pregnancy, to see if the changes caused by the early alcohol exposure can be prevented, and in turn prevent the possible long-term disease outcome for offspring,’ she said.