Science Reporting

Drinking alcohol, even during conception, can damage the placenta

That alcohol can be a strongly negative factor for the development of the fetus during pregnancy has been ascertained by various studies but few of them have analyzed the effects that the same alcohol can have in the period related to conception (immediately before and shortly after fertilization).

A new study, conducted by the researchers Jacinta Kalisch-Smith and Karen Moritz of the University of Queensland in Australia, tries to fill this gap by studying the impact that alcohol can have on the fetus and in general on pregnancy if taken during the period of conception. Precisely for this reason, the two researchers performed experiments on rats by having the females consume alcohol during the period of conception, specifically between four days before and four days after fertilization.

The results of the study, published in Development, showed that the placenta was significantly reduced. Alcohol, in fact, reduced the formation of blood vessels in the placenta and this, in turn, caused a lower intake of nutrients to the embryo. The size of the placenta was reduced by up to 17% and blood vessel formation by up to 32%.

This is important information about understanding the various often undetected causes behind the low birthweight of the child, which in turn is a risk factor for various diseases in adulthood.