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January 17, 2019

A study of 84 twin/sibling pairs exposed to alcohol in utero shows that two fetuses exposed to identical levels of alcohol can experience strikingly different levels of neurological damage.  Risk of damage does not depend solely on the pregnant woman’s alcohol consumption; rather, fetal genetics plays a vital role, according to findings published today in the journal Advances in Pediatric Research.

“The evidence is conclusive,” said lead author Susan Astley Hemingway, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

From a public-health standpoint, she said, the biggest take-away is that a fetus’ genetic makeup is a determinant to the risk of neurological damage from a mother’s alcohol consumption.  To protect all fetuses, including those most genetically vulnerable, the only safe amount of alcohol is none at all, the report concludes.

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