Dr Emily Dorey: Alcohol use in conception is risky

November 13, 2017

University of Queensland PhD student Emily Dorey Child Health Research Centre have found out that women who consume alcohol around the time of conception could be putting their male offspring at greater risk of obesity in later life after they investigated how alcohol exposure affected the just fertilised egg, in one of the first studies to look at alcohol in preconception rather than during pregnancy. Centre director Professor Karen Moritz said Emily Dorey’s research using animal models found that exposure to alcohol around conception made male offspring more likely to seek a high fat diet more often as they aged.Women have long been urged not to drink while pregnant and University of Queensland PhD student Emily Dorey said the studies, done on rats, found male offspring conceived while their mother was affected by alcohol were more likely to seek a high fat diet in later life.“These rats were given a diet of alcohol around the time of conception and then we studied the offspring as they aged and monitored the changes that occurred,” she said.”When given a choice between the normal standard chow diet and that high in fat and cholesterol, they continued to consume [the fatty] diet.”It was quite surprising that there was such a marked difference in the food consumption of the offspring when they were quite a bit older.”Previous studies show more than 50 per cent of women consume at least some alcohol during pregnancy in Australia where the research was conducted. There’s been anecdotal evidence some obstetricians tell their patients the occasional drink is fine.Some women, fear they harm their unborn baby and others do even consider an unnecessary termination.Confusion may be partly responsible for why so many women continue to drink despite being clearly advised not to.

Emily Dorey study found the alcohol was likely to affect a woman’s placenta before birth, leading to the different dietary choices of the offspring.Drinking while conceiving did not appear to have the same effect on female children.Ms Dorey said the research was significant because drinking during conception or while trying to get pregnant was common.”With the rate of unplanned pregnancies in Australia and the rate that Australians drink, there is a very large percentage of pregnancies that are being exposed to alcohol in this very early period,” she said.”I think it’s a really important message to get out that around conception. We can have lasting effects on our offspring.”But Ms Dorey said it would be difficult to conduct the study on humans.”There’s so many outside influences as you grow,” she said.The amount of alcohol consumed during conception did not affect the rat offspring’s own attachment to alcohol later in life.Reading this research its clear the risks of drinking alcohol are plenty although many people consider alcohol to be part of their culture and way of life. If you’re pregnant, drinking alcohol while pregnant can be harmful to your unborn baby.When you drink, alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta and to unborn baby. It can effect the development of the baby’s brain, spinal cord and other organs when the baby’s organs are developing most quickly, so that is the time of highest risk. Babies born affected by alcohol are described as having a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of these disorders.Too much alcohol also increases the risk of stillbirth, miscarriage and premature birth. As my elementary teacher used to tell us, drinking doesn’t always equate to a good time.There are harms associated with drinking too much both on a single occasion and over a lifetime. These can be serious and even life threatening.Widely available data show that the serious consequences caused by drinking too much on a single occasion generally fall in various forms where Injury is the most likely effect, it also contributes to criminal behavior such as assaults, property damage, disorderly or offensive behaviour, and drink driving as well as problems can range from losing friends because of the way drunkards act when drunk to not being able to pay bills because of excessive spending on alcohol.

Contador Harrison