Periconceptional ethanol consumption increase glucose concentrations in pregnant dams and alters fetal and placental growth (#273)
Background: A suboptimal intrauterine environment caused by factors such as alcohol consumption during pregnancy, can predispose the developing fetus to adult disease. While alcohol may affect fetal development directly, it may also alter maternal physiology and indirectly affect fetal development. As alcohol intake can alter glucose regulation, maternal drinking may result in hyperglycemia. This study aims to investigate if alterations occur in maternal glucose concentrations in dams exposed to ethanol in the periconceptional period.
Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats were given ad libitum access to a liquid diet containing ethanol (12.5% or 0% v/v) (n=6-8/group) from E-4 to E4. Maternal blood was collected for analysis of plasma alcohol concentrations (PAC) and glucose at 0.5 and 1 hour after offering diet on E-2 and E2. Diet and water intake were monitored during exposure to the diet.
Results: Caloric intake did not differ between treatment groups but dams on the ethanol diet consumed more water (p=0.002). Maternal PAC reached an average maximum of 0.17% within 0.5 hours of diet administration on E-2 and 0.27% on E2. There was no difference in blood glucose concentrations at 0.5 or 1 hour after exposure to diet on E-2. However, on E2 glucose levels were significantly increased in ethanol exposed dams but not in controls both 0.5 (p=0.009) and 1 hour (p=0.025) after diet administration. In late gestation (day 20 of pregnancy) ethanol exposed pups were lighter than control (P=0.05) whilst the placenta-to-body-weight ratio was significantly higher in ethanol exposed pups (p=0.001).
Conclusions: This study has shown that alcohol consumption can alter glucose levels during early pregnancy as compared to pre-pregnancy. Further investigation will continue to focus on glucose handling in pregnant dams exposed to alcohol by performing a glucose and insulin tolerance test. These changes in maternal physiology due to consumption of alcohol during early pregnancy were associated with altered placental and fetal growth.