Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nutritional Supplement Given After Birth Improves Learning And Behavior In Rats Exposed To Alcohol During Development

Date:
March 2, 2007
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
Giving choline to infants who were exposed in the womb to alcohol may mitigate some of the resulting problems. Prenatal alcohol exposure affects physical and central nervous system development, putting children at risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders that at their worst include full-blown fetal alcohol syndrome. These disorders can mean a lifetime of potentially serious problems with learning, attention, motor skills and social behavior.

Giving choline to infants who were exposed in the womb to alcohol may mitigate some of the resulting problems. Prenatal alcohol exposure affects physical and central nervous system development, putting children at risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders that at their worst include full-blown fetal alcohol syndrome. These disorders can mean a lifetime of potentially serious problems with learning, attention, motor skills and social behavior. The findings appear in the February issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

At San Diego State University, research led by Jennifer Thomas, PhD, is using an animal model to assess the potential therapeutic value of choline. Because scientists have been unable to determine a safe threshold for alcohol consumption during human pregnancy, abstention is the only sure means of prevention. However, warnings about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy either don't reach or aren't heeded by all pregnant women. As a result, researchers are seeking effective remedies to give after birth, when health professionals may be better able to intervene.

Choline plays a number of roles in brain development. It is also a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and cognition, among other functions. Choline is available in many foods, such as eggs and liver, and sold over the counter in well-tolerated forms such as lecithin, choline bitartrate or chloride, and phosphatidylcholine. Due to choline's beneficial effects on nervous-system development, women are advised to consume 450 mg a day while pregnant and 550 mg a day while breast feeding (the tolerable upper limit has been set at 3.5 g per day). For infants, 125-150 mg/day is considered adequate during the first year, rising as the child grows older. Choline is added to some prenatal vitamins and baby formulas, and is now added to some children's multivitamins and cereals.

The current study of 170 rats found that giving choline to rat pups exposed to alcohol during the equivalent of the third trimester, when there's a spurt in brain growth, significantly reduced the severity of alcohol-related over-activity and spatial learning deficits. The benefits lasted months after choline treatment, suggesting that choline's effects are long-lasting, say the authors.

Various doses of choline were equally effective, so the researchers think that at least for the rat, as little as 10 mg/kg of weight per day could be effective. Thomas and her colleagues would next like to determine how choline helps and to assess how late in development it can reduce fetal alcohol effects. If choline is to be used clinically, it's important to know when treatment works best.

The authors conclude that extra choline "can alter brain development following a developmental insult. Early dietary interventions may reduce the severity of some fetal alcohol effects, even when administered after birth."

Importantly, the animal data suggest that although early postnatal choline can reduce learning deficits and hyperactivity following early alcohol exposure, it doesn't help reduce motor coordination deficits. Thomas cautions, "Choline is not going to be a panacea for all symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Women need to be continually reminded of the damaging effects of alcohol on the developing fetus."

Previous studies by other researchers have shown that prenatal choline supplementation in rats influences development of the nervous system, especially the brain's cortex and hippocampus. The current study demonstrates the benefits of postnatal choline in rats, making it potentially more useful given the realities of drinking during pregnancy.

Thomas and her colleagues also hope eventually to conduct clinical studies of postnatal choline on humans affected by prenatal alcohol exposure. If the current results with rats are replicated in humans, then infants born to mothers who drank when pregnant might benefit from supplemental choline.

Article: "Choline Supplementation Following Third-Trimester Equivalent Alcohol Exposure Attenuates Behavioral Alterations in Rats," Jennifer D. Thomas, PhD, Jeremy S. Biane, PhD, Kelly A. O'Bryan, PhD, Teresa M. O'Neill, PhD, and Hector D. Dominguez, PhD, San Diego State University; Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol. 121, No. 1.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association. "Nutritional Supplement Given After Birth Improves Learning And Behavior In Rats Exposed To Alcohol During Development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070301082009.htm>.
American Psychological Association. (2007, March 2). Nutritional Supplement Given After Birth Improves Learning And Behavior In Rats Exposed To Alcohol During Development. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070301082009.htm
American Psychological Association. "Nutritional Supplement Given After Birth Improves Learning And Behavior In Rats Exposed To Alcohol During Development." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070301082009.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) — An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) — A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins