New Concerns About Alcohol Consumption While Breast Feeding

mother and newborn child

Researchers have long known that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can have a wide range of adverse impacts on the fetus.

But what about after the baby is born and breastfeeding? That’s an important question, given that 36% of all new moms in the U.S. report consuming alcohol while breastfeeding.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, conducted a study using mice to try and understand the impact of maternal alcohol consumption on breastfeeding infants. Their study[i] has just been published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

According to their paper, “little emphasis has been placed on educating new parents about alcohol consumption while breastfeeding. This is partly due to a paucity of research on lactational ethanol exposure (LEE) effects in children, although, it has been shown that infants exposed to ethanol via breast milk frequently present with reduced body mass, low verbal IQ scores, and altered sleeping patterns.”

The research team found that newborn mice exposed to alcohol from the parent’s breastmilk had smaller bodies and smaller brains than mice not exposed to alcohol. This was true of both male and female mice.

Further behavioral tests conducted by the study authors “suggest that LEE (lactational ethanol exposure) mice engage in higher risk-taking behavior, show abnormal stress regulation, and exhibit increased hyperactivity.”

While running these tests on mice has limitations, the research team hopes their study will encourage additional research on the topic and encourage new mothers to think carefully about best maternal practices.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol during pregnancy or at any other time, and need help in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, or Indiana, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. And we come to you, regardless of where you live. Our unique in-home treatment model of care gives clients a significantly better chance of recovery than traditional inpatient rehab care. Please get in touch with one of our Recovery Specialists to learn more.