Consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and its impact has been studied for long by experts. Researchers have now said that even special occasion drinking during pregnancy can be harmful.
According to a study in the Journal of Physiology, even small amounts of drinking during pregnancy can result in insulin resistance, increasing the chances of diabetes.
The study was conducted on rats mimicking ‘special occasion drinking’. Male rats exposed to low level of prenatal alcohol showed signs of becoming diabetic at around six months old, with insulin levels reaching higher than expected to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
The insulin resistance was sex-specific, which means, it occurred only in male rats. One of the reasons was that during pregnancy, the placenta adapts to a prenatal stress differently depending on if it’s a male or female foetus, and this can impact on foetal growth and development.
The other reason is hormone changes as the offspring grows into adulthood. Estrogen protects against insulin-resistance, and because males don’t have high estrogen, they don’t experience the same protection.
Senior author on the study Lisa Akison said, “Even a small amount of alcohol during pregnancy can be harmful, so if you’re planning on getting pregnant don’t drink. Families, partners and friends should support a woman’s choice not to drink alcohol during pregnancy. If a woman accidentally becomes pregnant, and unknowingly drinks alcohol during the first part of their pregnancy, the important thing once they know is to stop drinking, have a good diet and take care of themselves throughout the remainder of the pregnancy.”