Any amount of alcohol exposure during pregnancy can cause extreme lasting effects on a child, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
A team of researchers led by Marvin Diaz, assistant professor of psychology at Binghamton University, determined that even a small to moderate amount of alcohol exposure produces significant amounts of anxiety in offspring, lasting through adolescence and into adulthood. This research differed in its use of only low levels of alcohol exposure, whereas prior studies used high levels of exposure to reach the same conclusion.
“There’s been a lot of media coverage on whether there’s a safe amount of alcohol to drink,” said Diaz. “This study shows that there isn’t.”
Pregnant rats were exposed to ethyl alcohol vapor for a six-hour period on their twelfth day of gestation; this was the only time the rats were exposed to alcohol. The offspring were then subjected to a series of anxiety tests. The researchers found that anxiety was most apparent in male rats during their adolescence. After entering adulthood, the effects were opposite, with ethanol exposed male rats showing reduced anxiety, while the females still appear to be unaffected.