While prenatal alcohol and drug use are known to cause a variety of negative effects on an unborn child including low birth weight and learning difficulties, a new research from Rutgers University, New Jersey, indicates that women who binge drink before becoming pregnant are more likely to have children with diabetes.
As per the study recently published online on the Endocrine Society’s website, binge drinking before conception could lead to women having children who are more likely to have high blood sugar and other changes in glucose function. Dipak Sarkar, the principal author, said, “The effects of alcohol use during pregnancy on an unborn child are well known, including possible birth defects and learning and behavior problems. However, it is not known whether a mother’s alcohol use before conception also could have negative effects on her child’s health and disease susceptibility during adulthood.”
The experiment was conducted on female rats who were administered a diet consisting of 6.7 percent alcohol for four weeks that raised their blood alcohol levels to the extent found in binge drinking individuals. Researchers then removed alcohol from the rats’ diet allowing them to breed three weeks later. When compared with controlled offspring, the researchers observed several signs of abnormal glucose function in the offspring that were exposed to alcohol prior to conception.
“These findings suggest that the effects of a mother’s alcohol misuse before conception may be passed on to her offspring. These changes could have lifelong effects on the offspring’s glucose function and possibly increase their susceptibility to diabetes,” said Ali Al-Yasari, the study’s co-author.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 60 percent of American women have at least one drink a year and among those who drink, 13 percent have more than seven drinks per week. The NIAAA data also shows that more than 5 million women in the U.S. drink in a way that is detrimental to their health, safety and well-being.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 46 percent of adult women report drinking alcohol in the last 30 days. In addition to increasing the risk of stillbirth, premature delivery and miscarriage, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can result in the baby developing a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
Compared to men, alcohol can cause more harm to women. With less water in their bodies, women do not tolerate alcohol the way men do making them more susceptible to the substance’s long-term negative side effects. Additionally, since the brain and other organs in women are more exposed to alcohol, it can increase their risk of getting certain long-term diseases including brain damage, liver diseases, heart damage and certain types of cancers. Excessive drinking in women also exposes them to the risk of sexual assault.
In a bid to educate people, especially women, about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) observes the Alcohol- and Other Drug-Related Birth Defects Awareness Week (AODBDAW) each year starting the Mother’s Day. This year, the AODBDAW is being celebrated from May 14 to May 20.
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