Alcohol has an epigenetic impact and increases the long term metabolic health of children and adults increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The scientists used a rat model and monitored the offspring of the rat model for metabolic diseases. The research findings specified that the equivalent of five standard drinks consumed around the time of conception altered the development of the embryo.
“Before the egg implants, before any organs start to develop, alcohol consumption somehow causes changes to the embryo,” said Dr Moritz, the lead author.
“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. “Monitoring the offspring of the laboratory rat model, we found the risk of becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes in early middle age dramatically increased”, said Dr. Moritz. “The usual risk factors of these two diseases are attributed to poor diet and lack of exercise, but our research showed exposure to alcohol around conception presents a risk similar to following a high-fat diet for a major proportion of life.”
E. M. Gardebjer, S. T. Anderson, M. Pantaleon, M. E. Wlodek, K. M. Moritz. Maternal alcohol intake around the time of conception causes glucose intolerance and insulin insensitivity in rat offspring, which is exacerbated by a postnatal high-fat diet. The FASEB Journal, 2015; 29 (7): 2690 DOI: 10.1096/fj.14-268979