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Aurora magazine

Drinking in pregnancy alters DNA

By now everyone is very familiar with alcohol damage during pregnancy. According to a study led by Rutgers University-New Brunswick, drinking too little during pregnancy could alter the DNA of the fetus.

Thanks to this discovery, it could be easier to diagnose any congenital problems and intervene in time. A previous study showed that, consumed in large quantities, alcohol alters DNA in adults. The study in question, instead, focused on children.

Scientists have indeed analyzed the effects of alcohol on the DNA of 30 pregnant women and 359 children. Alcohol consumption is linked to changes localized in two genes: POMC, which regulates the organism's stress response; PER2, which influences the biological clock. These are present both in women who drink during pregnancy and in their children, exposed to the substance during the nine months.

In order for these effects to manifest itself severely, consumption must be above 3 drinks per month. However, since alcohol passes from the mother's body to that child, even smaller amounts can be harmful. Disorders related to fetal alcohol syndrome include physical and intellectual disabilities, behavioral problems, learning difficulties. Furthermore, alcohol consumption increases cortisol levels in the fetus, the stress hormone. This in turn causes problems in the immune system, which in turn can cause serious health problems.