S. Bake, S.K. Rouzer, S. Mavuri, R.C. Miranda, A.H. Mahnke, The interaction of
genetic sex and prenatal alcohol exposure on health across the lifespan, Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology (2023),doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yfrne.2023.101103
Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) can reprogram the development of cells and tissues, resulting in a spectrum of physical and neurobehavioral teratology. PAE immediately impacts fetal growth, but its effects carry forward post-parturition, into adolescence and adulthood, and can result in a cluster of disabilities, collectively termed Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Emerging preclinical and clinical research investigating neurological and behavioral outcomes in exposed offspring point to genetic sex as an important modifier of the effects of PAE.
In this review, we discuss the literature on sex differences following PAE, with studies spanning the fetal period through adulthood, and highlight gaps in research where sex differences are likely, but currently under-investigated. Understanding how sex and PAE interact to affect offspring health outcomes across the lifespan is critical for identifying the full complement of PAE-associated secondary conditions, and for refining targeted interventions to improve the quality of life for individuals with PAE.