Study says drinking moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can affect IQ level of child
The new study from the University of Bristol and University of Oxford has shown that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can affect the IQ level of the child. In the research project, the scientists studied more than 4,000 mothers and their children. These participants were part of the children of the 90s study.
The study was considered the first of its kind as the past studies have focused on observational evidence rather than genetic evidence.
It evaluated the female participants with Mendelian randomization, a new technique which can study the connection between exposures and the development of diseases with genetic variants.
Ron Gray, a researcher from the University of Oxford said, “This is a complex study but the message is simple, even moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can have an effect on future child intelligence. So women have good reason to choose to avoid alcohol when pregnant.”
In conducting the study, the researchers had the mothers conduct questionnaires on the alcohol intake when they were 18 weeks pregnant.
Based on the findings, the investigators discovered that there were four genetic variations related to alcohol-metabolizing genes and low IQ levels for the 4,167 kids.
The children, who were exposed to small traces of alcohol, were shown to have an average of almost two points less based on the genetic modification they expressed. “Our results suggest that even at levels of alcohol consumption which are normally considered being harmless; we can detect differences in childhood IQ, which are dependent on the ability of the fetus to clear this alcohol. This is evident that even at these moderate levels, alcohol is influencing fetal brain development,” said Sarah Lewis, the study’s main author and a member of the University of Bristol.
The researchers say their findings can help clear up contradictory guidelines on alcohol consumption during pregnancy. They also believe that other lifestyle and social factors like diet, smoking, mother’s age and education makes it difficult to isolate the results that were based on alcohol consumption.