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The New Stuff

How mothers can give their babies a taste for alcohol

Babies exposed to alcohol in the womb may be more likely to become teenage drinkers, research claims.

Scientists believe a mother-to-be's diet determines her unborn baby's sense of smell.

So youngsters who have been exposed to alcohol in the womb are attracted to its smell on the breath of other teenagers.
This in turn may increase their own chances of drinking. Researchers said that early exposure could 'worsen the consequences of alcohol related social interaction by increasing teenagers' propensity to engage in such settings'.

Although the experiments were on rats, the researchers, from the State University of New York, believe they are of clear relevance to humans.

They looked at how adolescent rats behaved when placed in a cage with other rats with alcohol on their breath.
Those exposed to alcohol in the womb were twice as likely to follow the 'drinker' rats, the journal Behavioral and Brain Functions reports.
Researcher Steven Youngentob said it appeared their sense of smell had been altered. He said the such a link was 'essential to the progressive development of alcohol abuse'.

Other research shows a first taste of alcohol before 15 sharply increases the risk of becoming a heavy drinker.

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