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Drinking during pregnancy may cause alcoholism in future generations: Study

Drinking during pregnancy may cause alcoholism in future generations: Study

April 13 | By CAAH Team

Americans are drinking at an unprecedented rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 30,700 people died in 2014 due to alcohol-induced causes. While the increasing number of people consuming alcohol has been attributed to the glitz and glamour associated with drinking, the fact that booze has left a lasting effect on the culture of the United States cannot be denied.

New studies are being conducted regularly to understand the ill effects of alcohol abuse. Though the havoc caused by alcohol during pregnancy is known, a new study by the Binghamton University found drinking just a glass of alcohol during pregnancy increases the chances of next three generations to develop alcoholism. The study, titled “Trans-generational transmission of the effect of gestational ethanol exposure on ethanol use-related behavior,” aimed at examining drinking effects during pregnancy on susceptibility of alcohol on the future generations.

Details of the study

As part of the study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research in February 2016, pregnant rats at gestational days 17-20, the equivalent of the second trimester in humans, were administered wine (equivalent to a glass) for four days continuously. The underage male and female progeny of the rats were then tested for water or alcohol consumption. Adolescent males were tested for their response to alcohol by inoculating them with a high dose of alcohol. While discovering that the alcohol content made them unresponsive, scientists measured the time the rats took to get back to their senses. The findings indicated that if a mother drinks during her incubation period, there is an increased likelihood of her progeny to turn alcoholic.

Lead author of the study Nicole Cameron, assistant professor of psychology at the Binghamton University, said, “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 is the first study of this kind that analyzes the impact of alcohol consumption during pregnancy on alcohol-related behavior of generations not directly exposed to alcohol in the uterus during pregnancy. “This paper is the first to demonstrate trans-generational effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy on alcohol-related behavior in offspring,” Cameron said.

Though the scientists could not identify the reason for alcohol-induced behavior to pass on to generations after, Cameron said, “We now need to identify how this effect is pass through multiple generations by investigating the effects alcohol has on the genome and epigenome (molecules that control gene translation).”

Facts and figures

In spite of the perilous effects of alcohol, Americans are drinking more and more. There has been an increase in the number of alcohol-related deaths in the country. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, over 100,000 deaths per year can be attributed to alcohol-related causes. A 2015 report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) revealed that approximately 17 percent of men and 8 percent of women will be dependent on alcohol in their lifetime.

Achieving sobriety

Alcohol is an addiction and its treatment is necessary for complete recovery. While some believe that complete recovery from alcohol addiction is not possible, it is imperative to understand that the process of recovery is different for each person. Acknowledging that one has a drinking problem is the first step to recovery.

If you or your loved one is addicted to alcohol, seek medical help immediately. The Colorado Alcohol Addiction Helpline can assist you in finding the most effective treatment for the addiction. Please contact our experts at the 24/7 helpline number 866-592-9261 or chat online for more information.

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