Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Heavily Drinking In Teenage Years Can Affect Brain Function of Future Offspring

Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine performed a study pertaining to binge drinking in teenagers. The main purpose of this study was to explain that binge drinking in teenage years can massively affect the brain function of future offspring. The study determined that teenage binge drinking can change the on-off switches of various genes in the brains of offspring. Constantly binge drinking during teenage years can alter the brain functions of future offspring. This can potentially put offspring at a high risk for depression, anxiety, and metabolic disorders.

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An experiment was performed using  adolescent male and female rats that were exposed to large amounts of alcohol comparable to seven binge drinking episodes. After they became sober, the rats mated and the females continued to remain sober as they were pregnant. The rats that were exposed to alcohol were compared to a group of rats that were not exposed to alcohol. Researchers examined the offspring of the rats that were exposed to alcohol and look at the genes in their hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a part of the brain which is involved in many functions, such as reproduction, stress response, intake of food, and the sleep cycle. Researchers examined molecular changes in the DNA that reversed the on-off switches in individual genes. The results showed 159 changes in the of binge-drinking mother's offspring, 93 changes in binge-drinking father's offspring, and 244 gene changes in the offspring of both binge-drinking parents. 

This particular study is the first of many that prove teenage binge drinking by either parent can cause many alterations in the nervous system of potential offspring. Although the findings of an animal model may not primarily translate to human, there are various similarities between the animal used for the study and human, such as metabolism of alcohol, the way the hypothalamus functions and the pattern and amount of alcohol ingested. I believe that people do not know what the long term consequences of binge drinking are. We should do a better job making people aware because it is hurting the further generations and it is not fair to those children. Innocent children should not have to suffer because of their parents poor decisions regarding drinking, binge drinking does not make anything better, in fact it just makes things worse, long term and short term.

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