Prenatal alcohol exposure on special occasions could still be harmful

New research suggests that prenatal alcohol exposure of any amount even on special occasions may still be harmful, elevating the risk of diabetes. The findings were published in the Journal of Physiology.

For the study, alcohol was administered to male rodents and female rodents during pregnancy for a duration of two days. At six months old, male rodents, who reached a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05-0.06 percent, began displaying insulin-resistance, becoming nearly diabetic.

“We examined the effect of an acute but moderate prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) on glucose metabolism, lipid levels and dietary preference in adolescent and/or adult rat offspring,” according to Lisa Akison, the study’s co-author.

“PAE resulted in a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05‐0.06% 1 h post‐gavage in dams. Fasting blood glucose concentration was not affected by PAE in offspring at any age, nor were blood glucose levels during a glucose tolerance test (GTT) in 6‐month old offspring.”

“However, there was evidence of insulin resistance in PAE male offspring at 6 months of age, with significantly elevated fasting plasma insulin, a tendency for increased first phase insulin secretion during the GTT and impaired glucose clearance following an insulin challenge.”

Interestingly, insulin-resistance only occurred among male rodents, possibly as a result of hormone changes, researchers theorize.

As the findings concluded, alcohol use during pregnancy, even in small amounts, could impact the long-term health of offspring.

“These data suggest that a relatively low‐level, acute PAE programs metabolic dysfunction in offspring in a sex‐specific manner.”

“These results highlight that alcohol consumption during pregnancy has the potential to affect the long‐term health of offspring.”