How does Foetal Alcohol syndrome lead to impaired brain function?

Exposure to environmental insults during pregnancy can harm a developing foetus and have life-long effects on health and well-being. A well-known example is foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) which is associated with excessive maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. We are now using an animal model of foetal alcohol syndrome to explore the epigenetic mechanisms that may lead to impaired brain function in the offspring. We are exploring the hypothesis that alcohol exposure in utero compromises epigenetic silencing leading to genetic and transcriptional variation in the brain and ultimately altered behaviour in adulthood. This work is an ongoing collaboration with Dr Suyinn Chong at the Mater Medical Research Institute.