Mitigating the detrimental developmental impact of early fetal alcohol exposure using a maternal methyl donor-enriched diet. Academic Article uri icon


  • Fetal alcohol exposure at any stage of pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), a group of life-long conditions characterized by congenital malformations, as well as cognitive, behavioral, and emotional impairments. The teratogenic effects of alcohol have long been publicized; yet fetal alcohol exposure is one of the most common preventable causes of birth defects. Currently, alcohol abstinence during pregnancy is the best and only way to prevent FASD. However, alcohol consumption remains astoundingly prevalent among pregnant women; therefore, additional measures need to be made available to help protect the developing embryo before irreparable damage is done. Maternal nutritional interventions using methyl donors have been investigated as potential preventative measures to mitigate the adverse effects of fetal alcohol exposure. Here, we show that a single acute preimplantation (E2.5; 8-cell stage) fetal alcohol exposure (22.5g/kg ethanol with a 2h interval) in mice leads to long-term FASD-like morphological phenotypes (e.g. growth restriction, brain malformations, skeletal delays) in late-gestation embryos (E18.5) and demonstrate that supplementing the maternal diet with a combination of four methyl donor nutrients, folic acid, choline, betaine, and vitamin B12, prior to conception and throughout gestation effectively reduces the incidence and severity of alcohol-induced morphological defects without altering DNA methylation status of imprinting control regions and regulation of associated imprinted genes. This study clearly supports that preimplantation embryos are vulnerable to the teratogenic effects of alcohol, emphasizes the dangers of maternal alcohol consumption during early gestation, and provides a potential proactive maternal nutritional intervention to minimize FASD progression, reinforcing the importance of adequate preconception and prenatal nutrition.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 62.63

author list (cited authors)

  • Breton-Larrive, M., Elder, E., Legault, L., Langford-Avelar, A., MacFarlane, A. J., & McGraw, S.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Breton-Larrivée, Mélanie||Elder, Elizabeth||Legault, Lisa-Marie||Langford-Avelar, Alexandra||MacFarlane, Amanda J||McGraw, Serge

publication date

  • April 2023