BINGHAMTON, N. Y. — That occasional glass of wine may be more harmful than believed. A new study finds that simply put, no amount of alcohol is “safe” to drink when you’re pregnant.
Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York conducted an experiment on pregnant rats, exposing them to ethyl alcohol vapor once, about halfway into their gestation period, for a duration of six hours.
After birth, the offspring of the rats that were briefly exposed to alcohol in this manner were more likely to exhibit anxiety-related traits, at least during adolescence.
This inquiry was unique in that it specifically looked at how low levels of alcohol exposure, as opposed to higher levels, affected one’s descendants.
“There’s been a lot of media coverage on whether there’s a safe amount of alcohol to drink,” explains lead researcher Marvin Diaz in a press release. “This study shows that there isn’t.”
Interestingly, the alcohol-induced postpartum effects observed had a higher incidence among male offspring. For reasons unknown, however, male rats exposed to ethanol in the womb were less likely to have issues with anxiety as adults — an effect not mirrored by their female counterparts.
“The most important takeaway from this study is that the effects we studied on the rats only took one day of exposure to produce — just six hours,” Diaz concludes.
Further research could look into the neurochemical changes in the brain following alcohol exposure, along with why males seem to be affected more than the fairer sex.
Ultimately, many women may believe that it’s safe to consume moderate amounts of alcohol throughout their pregnancy, but these findings suggest otherwise.
The full study was published last month the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.