Fetal Meconium: Reliable Measure of Alcohol Exposure
An analysis of fetal meconium can be a reliable measure of gestational alcohol exposure during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The researchers believe that this analysis could result in predictions of which newborns will suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome, a disorder caused by excessive drinking during pregnancy and leads to physical and emotional delays.
“When alcohol consumed by a mother reaches the fetus, it forms fatty acid ethyl esters,” said Simona Pichini, author of the study and a senior scientist at the Istituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome. “These compounds, along with ethylglucuronide (EtG), are accumulated by the fetus in meconium, which is composed of amniotic fluid cells shed by the skin and intestinal tract, as well as other elements during the last two gestation trimesters. Meconium is expelled within the first 24 to 48 hours following birth and it can be examined to find all the toxins and xenobiotics accumulated by the fetus.”
The study reinforces warnings from physicians and other medical professional for pregnant women not to consume any alcohol.