New study shows fatal effects of nicotine exposure during pregnancy may be curable

6/4/2009

NEW YORK Researchers may have discovered a simple drug treatment to reverse the often otherwise terminal effects of nicotine exposure to an unborn child.

Based on data from a recent study on rates by researchers at McMaster University, nicotine exposure hinders a newborn’s ability to respond to low oxygen levels known as hypoxia.

Hypoxia can refer to episodes of apnea or moments of irregular breathing. When healthy babies are deprived of oxygen a hormone is released to trigger a deep breath. However, in infants subjected to nicotine during pregnancy this innate response is impaired and can result in sudden infant death syndrome.

The study, performed on rats, showed that the diabetic medication glibenclamide can increase the infant’s ability to react and respond to hypoxia, thus reversing the fatal effects of SIDS.

Data was published on June 3 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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