Alcohol exposure in the womb can lead to poor sleep in adulthood, according to new research from the United States.

The study saw researchers replicating a woman drinking a large quantity of alcohol in the last three months of pregnancy in mice, by injecting the animals with a single dose of pure alcohol a week after their birth.  

By studying the behaviour of the mice, researchers discovered that mice that were exposed to alcohol didn’t get as much slow-wave sleep as other mice in the experiment.

Slow-wave sleep is vitally important for providing restorative sleep, as well as being the function where the brain turns the day’s events into long term memories.

The mice that were exposed to alcohol were more likely to be hyperactive and to suffer from memory problems.

The scientists from New York University say that the study is very relevant to humans, even though it was conducted on mice.

Researcher Professor Donald Wilson said:

“We have known for a long time that sleep fragmentation is associated with impaired cognitive function, attention and emotional regulation.  Our study shows for the first time that binge alcohol exposure early in life results in long-lasting slow-wave sleep fragmentation, which, in turn, is associated with learning problems.”

The current guidelines in Australia, advise woman to avoid alcohol in pregnancy.

Image source: Shutterstock

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  • I think we know all round that alcohol during pregnancy is bad and causes all sorts of issues long into adulthood. Don’t be selfish and drink during pregnancy – put your baby first!


  • interesting study that they have found a link.


  • oh that is sad to think that there are babies out there affected by this.


  • Interesting to know


  • A very interesting study. I know that my mum along with the mums of many people my age (mid 30’s) drank and smoke while pregnant as it was not a known issue back then. Luckily my sleep has never been issue.


  • I know one Mum who only drank very occasionally who had a couple of white wines one night at a family gathering before she actually knew she was pregnant and was violently sick. What a way to have pregnancy confirmed !!!


  • I’m increasingly glad I gave up drinking before trying to get pregnant.


  • An interesting piece of trivia. I never had any alcohol whilst pregnant, nor breastfeeding, and I never felt like I missed out on anything.


  • I might need to have a chat with my mother!


  • I think avoiding alcohol/cigarettes during pregnancy is the safest method.

    • The evidence and outcomes would also suggest this to be the case.


  • Well that’s not the cause of my mother’s sleep problems as her mother didn’t drink


  • Interesting. I wish I could blame that for my poor sleep problems but my mother didn’t drink. Another great reason why alcohol sucks.


  • There is enough evidence already on the harmful effects of alcohol on unborn babies, is there really a need to be experiment on mice?


  • We don’t need a science based study to know that alcohol, smoking, drugs etc taken during pregnancy are going to have negative effects on an unborn child. I’m getting really sick of this drinking culture that causes nothing but problems.


  • I didn’t touch even one drop of alcohol during the pregnancy. I’m glad for that.


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