Study: Fetus absorbs mother’s alcohol intake quickly in just two hours
Toxic substances such as nicotine and alcohol can travel quickly through mother’s placenta to her unborn baby, shows a study conducted by the University of Eastern Finland. The research showed that the placenta does not shield the fetus, hence aocohol and nicotine can travel from mother to child in less than two hours.
The research, entitled “The role of the placenta in fetal toxicity of chemicals,” used a methodology in which placental function was maintained and observed using artificial blood flow. The methodology allowed researchers to gain new insights into the impact of smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy.
The study has been the first to show that ethanol ingested in alcoholic beverages prevents placental villi from correctly absorbing proteins.
The research showed that in as little as two hours, nicotine and ethanol concentrations are exactly the same in the fetus and the mother. The surprising revelation for expectant mothers is that the placenta does not shield the unborn child,” explained pharmacist and researcher Jenni Repo of the University of Eastern Finland.
Part of the research focused on creating cultures of placental structures known as villi or finger-like fronds projecting from the placenta to increase the contact area with maternal blood. For the first time, the study revealed that ethanol causes damage to the specialised cells. The normal functioning of the placenta is critical for the growth and development of an unborn child.
Even the smallest impairment changes the normal functioning of the cells. Changes may have major impacts on placental tissue,” Jenni Repo explained.