New Treatment For Fetal Alcohol Syndrome May Be On The Horizon

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New Treatment For Fetal Alcohol Syndrome May Be On The Horizon

A new study conducted by researchers at New York University School of Medicine reveals that administering lithium chloride to newborn mice after an alcohol binge mitigated the hyperactivity and sleep disturbances experienced when mice exposed to alcohol enter adulthood. Moreover, researchers believe that this study could pave the way for a new and effective treatment for fetal alcohol syndrome in the future.

Moreover, just a single dose of the lithium, a drug that is indicated for the treatment of bipolar disorder and aggression, prevents sleeping problems and learning deficits associated with fetal alcohol syndrome. Also, the rodents were much like likely to exhibit the 25% reduction in memory and cognitive test scores seen in alcohol-consuming mice who were left untreated.

Newborn mice are good models for humans, as their brain development after birth is comparable to other mammals.

Still, it is too early to suggest that lithium itself could be used as a treatment or preventive measure for fetal alcohol syndrome – for one, it has organ toxicities that could be risky for pregnant mothers. In the future, however, a similar therapy could be developed that uses the chemistry associated with lithium’s action, but with fewer unwanted side effects.

Also, this research may eventually help scientists determine if mitigating sleep disturbances linked to fetal alcohol syndrome alone could counter other development effects caused by alcohol use.

Key Findings

Mice who received lithium after alcohol use and mice who never consumed alcohol had the same amount of undisrupted sleep of around 10 hours daily, but untreated mice who consumed alcohol were disturbed from sleep up to 50 times an hour.

Of importance, sleep disruptions such as these have been associated with cognitive and emotional damages in both humans and animals.

The same team of researchers also found that sleep disturbances were a principal effect of fetal alcohol syndrome in animal models and people. Mice that slept better and longer exhibited better brain function than those that slept poorly, regardless of alcohol use.

The researchers intend to investigate if lithium can also mitigate other types of neurological damage caused by events such as trauma and stroke.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology


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