Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nicotine exposure in pregnant rats puts offspring at risk for learning disabilities

Date:
December 3, 2010
Source:
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Summary:
Exposure to nicotine during pregnancy leads to a decrease in adult stem cells and a change in synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus of the offspring, according to new research. Researchers say this could be a possible cause for behavioral problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder seen in children whose mothers smoked.

Exposure to nicotine during pregnancy leads to a decrease in adult stem cells and a change in synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus of the offspring, according to new research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham presented at Neuroscience 2010, the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego in November. Researchers say this could be a possible cause for behavioral problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) seen in children whose mothers smoked.

Related Articles


Adult stem cells in the hippocampus, the area of the brain most connected to learning and memory, continue to divide and produce new cells over a lifetime. The UAB team showed that exposing rats to nicotine during pregnancy leads to a decrease in the number of new cells in the hippocampus.

"Failure to correctly incorporate newborn cells into the circuitry of the hippocampus -- and the resulting disruption of neural pathways essential to learning -- could account for some of the behavioral problems observed later in the lives of children of mothers who smoke during pregnancy," said Robin Lester, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology and primary investigator. "These problems could include various cognitive deficits, learning difficulties, ADHD and an increased predisposition to drugs of abuse."

The World Health Organization reports that approximately 20 percent of women continue to smoke during pregnancy. Lester says the findings indicate that the insult resulting from gestational nicotine exposure may be one cause for learning disabilities in children and could provide a brain-circuitry mechanism accounting for these behavioral problems.

"Nicotine, along with other addictive drugs such as cocaine and morphine, have been shown to have similar effects on newborn cells when given to older animals, but our new results with nicotine suggest that these effects are more dramatic in newborns and may indicate increased risk and/or susceptibility for damage to the learning processes during pregnancy," said Shay Hyman, a doctoral student in Lester's laboratory. "These studies should provide further reasons and/or warnings to expectant mothers that they should seek help in refraining from smoking during pregnancy."

Lester says that that it will be essential to repeat these findings under conditions that more accurately resemble human smoking behavior. This can be done by allowing rats to press a lever in order to deliver nicotine when they want, thereby effectively giving them free will to "smoke" rather than continuously exposing them to the drug.

This research was supported by a United States Public Service Grant and the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Nicotine exposure in pregnant rats puts offspring at risk for learning disabilities." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101203141930.htm>.
University of Alabama at Birmingham. (2010, December 3). Nicotine exposure in pregnant rats puts offspring at risk for learning disabilities. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101203141930.htm
University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Nicotine exposure in pregnant rats puts offspring at risk for learning disabilities." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101203141930.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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