Alcohol use in first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy may lead to permanent brain changes in offspring

The FASD Prevention Conversation Project

It is well established that consuming alcohol during pregnancy can cause harm to the fetus. Now, a new study finds that drinking alcohol as early as 3-4 weeks into pregnancy – before many women even realize they are expecting – may alter gene functioning in the brains of offspring, leading to long-term changes in brain structure.

The study, condPregnancy_n1_by_ad_lucemucted 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.

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been linked to increased risk of a number of health…

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