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Genetics May Influence Alcohol's Effect on Fetus

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New animal research suggests that genetics may influence whether or not a child exposed to alcohol in-utero is born with birth defects.

HealthDay News reported April 22 that researchers at the University of Colorado gave alcohol to five inbred strains of pregnant mice and found differing birth defects among the newborns.

“[C]ertain strains [of mice] were sensitive to some effects of prenatal alcohol and resistant to others,” said lead author Chris Downing. “The fact that inbred strains differed showed that genetics plays a role.”

Downing said the findings could be relevant to prenatal alcohol use among humans because the human and mouse genomes are very similar.

The findings were published online April 21, 2009 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research

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