Common drugs help reverse signs of fetal alcohol syndrome in rats | Science News

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Common drugs help reverse signs of fetal alcohol syndrome in rats

Heavy drinking hampers an enzyme important for brain development, study finds

By
2:47pm, July 18, 2017
pregnant lady drinking wine

ALCOHOL EFFECTS Babies exposed to alcohol in utero can have lifelong learning and developmental problems. A new study in rats suggests one way alcohol might hurt a developing fetus, moving closer to a treatment.

A common blood sugar medication or an extra dose of a thyroid hormone can reverse signs of cognitive damage in rats exposed in utero to alcohol. Both affect an enzyme that controls memory-related genes in the hippocampus, researchers report July 18 in Molecular Psychiatry.

That insight might someday help scientists find an effective human treatment for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which can cause lifelong problems with concentration, learning and memory. “At this moment, there’s really no pharmaceutical therapy,” says R. Thomas Zoeller, a neurobiologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Fetal alcohol syndrome disorders may affect up to 5 percent of U.S. kids, according to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists don’t know exactly why alcohol has such a strong effect on developing brains. But the lower thyroid hormone levels commonly induced by alcohol exposure might be one explanation,

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