Drinking alcohol during pregnancy, even a moderate amount such as two glasses of wine each week, can negatively affect the brain development of the fetus and cause the baby to have a lower IQ.

These are the conclusions of a study carried out in the United Kingdom by scientists from the universities of Oxford and Bristol, in which they evaluated the IQ of around 4,000 children and associated it with the alcohol intake of their mothers during pregnancy.

Although a previous study (October 2010) from the University of London revealed that moderate alcohol consumption did not pose any risk to the developing fetus, the authors of this new work have found that only six units of alcohol per week during pregnancy - what is considered a moderate consumption - does affect the IC of the baby, albeit slightly.

The studies on alcohol consumption during pregnancy that had been carried out previously were observational, and certain factors could influence the results. Thus, most of the mothers who participated in these studies and who drank in moderation during their pregnancy, were usually women with a high educational level, who followed an appropriate diet during pregnancy and normally did not smoke, all positive factors associated to a higher IQ in children, and that they were able to minimize the negative effects of alcohol consumption.

The study linked four alterations in the genes that metabolize alcohol in children and their mothers with an IQ less than eight years old.

The new research, published by PLOS One, focused on individual genetic variants that are altered by alcohol consumption, and that are therefore not associated with the mother's life habits. The scientists found that four alterations in the genes that metabolize alcohol in children and their mothers were associated with a lower IQ at eight years of age. The IQ of these children decreased on average almost two points as a result of this genetic modification.

This only happened in the children whose mothers had ingested between one and six alcoholic drinks per week during pregnancy, but not in those whose mothers had not tried alcohol during the whole pregnancy. The researchers explain that, although it can not be shown that there is a cause-effect relationship, it is quite likely that the fact that the fetus was exposed to alcohol during its development is the reason for the differences found in the coefficient intellectual of these children.

Therefore, and although it seems that the impact on the baby in the case of moderate consumption is mild, and may not occur in all pregnant women, recommend women not to risk, and eliminate alcohol of your diet during pregnancy.

FASD: Living with a brain and body disability. (November 2019).