Alcohol Consumption Before Pregnancy Causes Detrimental Fetal Development

Collectively, the study suggests that even moderate ethanol intake may be detrimental to fetal development and may cause growth retardation through maternal metabolic disorders.

Alcohol consumption before or during pregnancy poses serious health risks to the fetus; however, the underlying mechanisms involved remain obscure.

Study has been done whether ethanol consumption before pregnancy affects maternal or fetal health and whether pharmacological inhibition of CYP2E1, a major ethanol oxidation enzyme, by 4-methylpyrazole (4-MP) has therapeutic effects.

“We found that ethanol consumption (5%) 2 weeks before pregnancy resulted in a decrease in the number of viable fetuses and abnormal fetal development, and these effects were accompanied by impaired maternal glucose homeostasis and hepatic steatosis during pregnancy,” researchers said.

Neonates of ethanol-fed mice had postnatal macrosomia and significantly decreased growth rates during the lactation period.

However, treatment with 4-MP, a CYP2E1 inhibitor, markedly ameliorated the reduction in insulin action and glucose disposal responsiveness in the livers of ethanol-fed mice.
Blockage of CYP2E1 significantly reduced the alteration in hepatic lipid deposition, fatty acid oxidation, mitochondrial energy status, and macrophage infiltration observed in ethanol-fed mice.

Finally, there was a positive correlation between postnatal macrosomia or growth retardation and increased inflammatory responses.

Collectively, the study suggests that even moderate ethanol intake may be detrimental to fetal development and may cause growth retardation through maternal metabolic disorders.

Maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been associated with the disruption of metabolic pathways in the mother, thus impairing fetal development and postnatal growth.
Several studies comparing prepregnancy and pregnancy drinking have shown that approximately half of all women stop drinking once pregnancy is recognized, and among the women who do not completely stop drinking during pregnancy, the majority actually reduce their drinking to much lower weekly levels.

Although the rates of alcohol use among women vary due to the cultural differences of each country, women’s alcohol use may affect their sexual behavior and is associated with the risk of unplanned pregnancy.

Importantly, women with an unplanned pregnancy may continue to drink at prepregnancy levels during the very early weeks of pregnancy before pregnancy recognition.

Alcohol consumption during prepregnancy may be closely associated with unintended fetal alcohol exposure, and it may be a causal factor for detrimental effects on maternal and fetal health.

Pregnancy is a dynamic state that involves a series of small, continuous physiological changes and adjustments that affect the metabolism of all nutrients.

Nutrient metabolism is continuously adjusted throughout pregnancy, and the changes are driven by hormonal changes, fetal demands, and maternal nutrient supply.

During pregnancy, fasting glucose levels progressively decrease as gestation progresses, whereas hepatic glucose production increases in late pregnancy; this is consistent with the increase in fasting insulin and is linked to maternal hepatic insulin insensitivity.

Insulin resistance is observed in the mother during pregnancy, is attributed to the increased concentration of several placental hormones, and may facilitate the delivery of energy substrates to the fetus.

The first half of pregnancy is primarily a time of preparation for the demands of rapid fetal growth that occurs late in pregnancy.

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