Scientists have discovered yet another powerful reason why mothers should not consume alcohol while they are pregnant. In addition to potentially causing birth defects, learning disabilities and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, babies who are introduced to alcohol while in the womb are more likely to have problems with alcohol in the future, according to new research.
The study, which appears in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, found that not only are those babies at greater risk for alcohol problems, but so is the next generation after them. While this is the first research study that explores this phenomenon, it does continue to illustrate the danger that alcohol poses to mother and the baby and to future generations.
“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. Thus, the offspring are more likely to develop alcoholism. This paper is the first to demonstrate trans-generational effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy on alcohol-related behavior in offspring,” commented Dr. Nicole Cameron, lead author of the study.
In order to conduct the study, researchers examined pregnant rats that were administered alcohol. After they gave birth the babies were examined, and then when the babies were old enough to have babies, those offspring were then tested for alcohol sensitivity as well. These rats also showed a tendency to want to consume alcohol compared with rats who were never exposed to it. Children who are born to mother’s that drink alcohol are being set up for a life that alcohol has the potential to be a real problem.
While there are mixed opinions on whether genetics or environmental factors have greater influence over future substance abuse, it is clear that people can be born with a low sensitivity. This information presents one more reason why women who are pregnant should abstain from alcohol completely.