Alcoholism & Addiction

Dietary Supplement May Be Effective in Stopping Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Mothers drinking while pregnant continues to be a life-threatening problem and one that appears to be continuing, despite consistent warnings regarding the dangers. Now, a supplement is being studied to determine whether or not it could block skull and brain damage resulting from alcohol consumption in early pregnancy.

According to a recent Science Daily release, the dietary supplement CDP-choline, used as a brain-boosting agent and under study for stroke and traumatic brain injury, could prove to be beneficial in alcohol consumption damage in gestation.

Medical College of Georgia researchers report that alcohol consumption early in pregnancy increases levels of a lipid called ceramide, which significantly increases suicide among cells critical to skull and brain formation.

The resulting damage is to the neural crest, which includes the brain’s skin or the multi-layered meninges that provide protection and nourishment. It also results in a lower production of a growth factor critical for brain and bone development. This finding could help explain defects that occur in fetal alcohol syndrome.

"There is just a little window," Dr. Erhard Bieberich, biochemist in the MCG Schools of Graduate Studies and Medicine, said in Science Daily. It is about four weeks after conception when neural crest cells emerge for a few days before morphing into other cell types that help form numerous organs.

It is suspected that ceramide, known to induce cell death and to be activated by alcohol, is a culprit in the damage. Researchers found high levels of ceramide both in mouse cells and pregnant mice exposed to alcohol along with a five-fold increase in apoptotic or dying cells.


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