Festive season cheer – let’s face it, alcohol – can lead to the conception of children. It can also damage not only one or two but three generations of your offspring. The revolutionary science of epigenetics informs us that men and women, just like mice, rats, fish, chickens, guinea pigs, dogs, ferrets, pigs and non-human primates, are susceptible to the brain damage known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Many couples do not know when they have conceived. If they've been drinking, the risks for the fetus are high.

Many couples do not know when they have conceived. If they’ve been drinking, the risks for the fetus are high. Credit:Greg Newington

Professor Kelly Huffman, of the University of California, is among a number of scientists to establish that exposure to alcohol in utero can not only severely harm the brain and body size of the first baby, but through the epigenetic effect, intellectual impairment, anxiety, depression and motor skill problems can be passed on to grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Over the past 20 years in my post-television work in health and education, I have met large numbers of FASD children, their families and carers. I became an ambassador for the organisation NOFASD because I learnt that most Australians about to have a child have little knowledge of FASD

According to one of Australia’s leading paediatric specialists on FASD, Heidi Webster of the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, just two binge-drinking sessions anytime during the first trimester is enough to cause FASD.



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