What drives developmental defects in children exposed to drugs and alcohol as fetuses? Loss of chromosomes in brain cells?

What drives developmental defects in children exposed to drugs and alcohol as fetuses? Loss of chromosomes in brain cells?

Prenatal exposure to amphetamines and alcohol produces abnormal numbers of chromosomes in fetal mouse brains. The findings suggest these abnormal counts may contribute to the developmental defects seen in children exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero.

Researchers injected pregnant mice with alcohol or amphetamines when the embryos were 13.5 days old, a time equivalent to the second trimester in humans. When the brains of the exposed mice were examined, it was found that from half to 2/3 of brain cells had an abnormal (lower than normal) number of chromosomes. The missing chromosomes may cause cells to die or function improperly, the researchers noted.

The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2011, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. See http://www.sfn.org/siteobjects/published/0000BDF20016F63800FD712C30FA42DD/A8BCE4D16130BADA681BD842BC267FD4/file/Nature%20Nurture%20FINAL%20DRAFT.pdf.