The effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy have been studied for some time now. A new study has now found that drinking moderate to high levels of alcohol consumption during the time can alter your baby’s DNA.
“Our findings may make it easier to test children for prenatal alcohol exposure and enable early diagnosis and intervention that can help improve the children’s lives,” lead author Dipak K Sarkar, professor and director, Department of Animal Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, was quoted as saying.
How do you ensure you are not consuming moderate or high amount of alcohol during pregnancy? Heavy drinking is about four to five drinks on at least five occasions in a month while moderate drinking is about three drinks on an occasion, according to the study.
Published in the Journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the study found changes in two genes–POMC (regulates the stress-response system) and PER2 (affects the body’s biological clock) in case of women who drank moderate to high levels of alcohol during pregnancy, and in kids who had been exposed to those levels in the womb.
The findings of the study also showed that infants who are exposed to alcohol in the womb, which passes from the mother’s blood through the umbilical cord, could lead to increased levels of cortisol, a potentially harmful stress hormone. This can negatively impact the child’s immune system and result in health problems.
Among fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are physical and intellectual disabilities, and behavioural and learning problems. Early intervention treatment, however, can help a child’s development.