Drinking Alcohol Around Conception Can Raise Diabetes Risk for Baby

Mothers who drink alcohol near the time of conception are more likely to have babies that develop type 2 diabetes in middle age, according to a study from the University of Queensland.

Using a lab rat model, researchers found that the equivalent of five drinks consumed around the time of conception was enough to alter the development of the growing baby.

“Anything that affects fetal development can cause long term programming, which means offspring can be born with increased risk and susceptibility to disease later in life," said Dr. Karen Moritz, from the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Unplanned pregnancies pose risks

While the risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes are normally centered around diet and lifestyle, Moritz said, the research suggests that exposure to alcohol around conception could be equally as risky as a long-term, poor diet.

Making the research even more compelling is the fact that about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Although most women stop drinking once they discover they are pregnant, a significant proportion are consuming alcohol at the time of conception, before they even know,” Moritz said.

Future research will focus on interventions to potentially prevent the harmful effects of drinking on the developing fetus.

“One possibility is giving some type of nutrient to the mother, even in later pregnancy, to see if the changes caused by the early alcohol exposure can be prevented, and in turn prevent the possible long-term disease outcomes for offspring.”

Source: University of Queensland

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