Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Zinc Supplements During Pregnancy May Counteract Damage From Early Alcohol Exposure

Date:
February 8, 2009
Source:
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
Summary:
Animal research has shown that binge drinking -- even just once -- during early pregnancy can cause numerous problems for the fetus, including early postnatal death. Fetal zinc deficiency may explain some of the birth defects and neurodevelopmental abnormalities associated with alcohol exposure. New rodent findings are the first to show that dietary zinc supplements throughout pregnancy can reduce some alcohol-related birth defects.

Animal research has shown that binge drinking – even just once – during early pregnancy can cause numerous problems for the fetus, including early postnatal death. Fetal zinc deficiency may explain some of the birth defects and neurodevelopmental abnormalities associated with alcohol exposure. New rodent findings are the first to show that dietary zinc supplements throughout pregnancy can reduce some alcohol-related birth defects.

Related Articles


Results will be published in the April issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Alcohol's damage to the fetus depends not only on the amount and duration of alcohol exposure, but also on the timing of the exposure relative to the development stage of the cells and tissues involved," said Peter Coyle, associate professor at the Hanson Institute in Adelaide, and corresponding author for the study. "Earlier work had shown that prenatal alcohol, as well as other toxins, can result in fetal zinc deficiency and teratogenicity by inducing the zinc-binding protein, metallothionein, in the mother's liver. Since then, our group has confirmed the importance of metallothionein in alcohol-mediated birth defects."

Coyle and his colleagues injected pregnant mice with either saline or a 25-percent solution of alcohol on gestational day (GD) eight; all mice received either a regular or zinc-supplemented diet from GD zero to 18. On GD 18, fetuses from all four groups – saline, saline plus zinc, alcohol, alcohol plus zinc – were assessed for external birth abnormalities. In addition, from birth to day 60, researchers examined the growth of survivors from all four groups.

"There were three key findings," said Coyle. "One, fetal abnormalities caused by acute alcohol exposure in early pregnancy can be prevented by dietary zinc supplementation. Two, dietary zinc supplementation throughout pregnancy can protect against post-natal death caused by acute alcohol exposure in early pregnancy. Three, dietary zinc supplementation increases the mother's blood zinc to overwhelm the transient drop in zinc caused by alcohol, which we believe prevents the fetal zinc deficiency and subsequent fetal damage."

Coyle added that the rodents' GD eight is the equivalent of weeks three to eight during a human pregnancy. "This encompasses a period when the mother is often unaware of her pregnancy and may not have changed her drinking habits," he said. "Moreover, up to 60 percent of pregnancies are unplanned. This latter point is of concern when noting that binge drinking is common in the community and more likely to occur in the first trimester than later."

Importantly, Coyle emphasized, his team is not suggesting that it is safe to drink while taking zinc during pregnancy.

"We have not determined whether zinc protects against all of the possible negative outcomes from alcohol exposure in pregnancy," he said. "Nor would we recommend that makers of alcoholic beverages include zinc in their product so that women can drink while pregnant. Indeed, we take the conservative stand of a 'no alcohol policy' during pregnancy. What our studies do indicate is that dietary zinc supplementation could be as important as folic acid and applied as a simple prophylactic treatment in the human setting to prevent the effects of a range of insults in pregnancy."

While zinc supplementation is relatively common, and zinc tablets can easily be found in herbal shops, Coyle cautioned that zinc can also affect the absorption of other trace elements and cause anemia if taken in excess. "So one must be wary of taking zinc supplements without professional oversight, and this is particularly so in pregnancy," he said.

"Furthermore," he added, "although dietary zinc supplementation has been used in human pregnancy, we do not have any information regarding the dose that would be required to protect against damage from alcohol nor even the dosage that could be harmful to fetal development. Indeed, we have not tested our hypothesis in humans and so it would be unwise to extrapolate any of our findings to humans. We would predict that zinc supplementation would only be effective around the time of alcohol intake to prevent fetal zinc deficiency. Taking zinc supplements a day after alcohol consumption would probably be too late to prevent fetal damage. Obviously more research is needed."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Zinc Supplements During Pregnancy May Counteract Damage From Early Alcohol Exposure." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174452.htm>.
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. (2009, February 8). Zinc Supplements During Pregnancy May Counteract Damage From Early Alcohol Exposure. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174452.htm
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Zinc Supplements During Pregnancy May Counteract Damage From Early Alcohol Exposure." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174452.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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