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Binge Drinking Teens

December 7, 2016

Could teenage binge drinking have effects on the next generation, even if they’re never exposed to alcohol?



Binge drinking’s long shadow. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It’s well-known that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects. But  a new study suggests that binge drinking during adolescence could lead to genetic changes in the brains of offspring conceived long after the drinking ends. Loyola University neuroscientist Andie Asimes found DNA modifications in the hypothalamus brain region of rats whose parents were exposed to large amounts of alcohol as teenagers.


We see impacts of both maternal binge drinking and paternal binge drinking. And more changes when both parents are exposed to alcohol, but these changes are different than either parent alone.


The hypothalamus regulates hormones throughout the body, and disrupting it in humans could contribute to mental health disorders down the road. Asimes presented the research at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard