Throughout the nine months of pregnancy, every future mother struggles with being cut off from normal indulgences (TTYL sushi + alcohol). Breastfeeding is an entirely different story — there’s always the trusty pump + dump. For future moms worrying about the risks of drinking while pregnant (if it’s one sip or several drinks), there’s a recent study that reveals how your newborn could be affected thanks to their poop. We’ve never found #2 so fascinating, nor have we been as scared about drinking during those nine months ever before.
New research from a Project Newborn study, which is an ongoing project that has studied nearly 400 children since their births in the mid-’90s, reveals that a child’s first stool (better known as meconium) can detect prenatal exposure to alcohol.
For this particular part of Project Newborn, researchers analyzed meconium of 216 subjects for high levels of fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE), which reveals a mother’s alcohol intake during her pregnancy. They then gave intelligence tests at ages 9, 11 and 15. The ultimate findings? There’s a link between those with high levels of FAEE in their poop at birth and lower IQ scores when older. This is helpful because prenatal alcohol exposure can present problems well into teen years if left undetected. So why not find out early and figure out ways to curb those problems, right?
By opening up the door to scientific research for something so impactful on a child’s future, a doctor doesn’t have to simply rely on a mother admitting to drinking (or making an inaccurate statement on consumption levels) while pregnant. If tested on a wider audience, a stool sample could help to give doctors an idea of whether a child could be at risk for cognitive problems in their future. “Detecting prenatal exposure to alcohol at birth could lead to early interventions that help reduce the effects later,” said lead researcher of the study, Meeyoung O. Min, PhD, research assistant professor at the Mandel School.
Who knows? This study may just become a routine test for your child before heading home in the near future.
What are your thoughts on this study? Share them with us in the comments.