- Anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen can help delay harmful effects of alcohol on the baby's brain
- Ibuprofen can reduce neuroinflammation and behavioural signs of alcohol exposure in infants
- Fetal exposure to alcohol can lead to a cluster of cognitive impairment problems such as trouble learning, remembering and paying attention
Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug can delay the potentially harmful impact of alcohol on babies found a new study published in Behavioral Brain Research
Ibuprofen reduced neuroinflammation and behavioral signs of alcohol exposure in a rat model of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
‘According to the CDC, around two to five of every 100 U.S. schoolchildren have lasting cognitive problems associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders’
The study was the first to directly link alcohol-induced inflammation in the hippocampus to cognitive impairment later in the life, said Derick Lindquist, senior author and a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.
The findings, which appear in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, could have eventual implications reaching beyond fetal alcohol spectrum disorders because neuroinflammation is a hallmark of many neurological diseases, he said.
In humans, fetal exposure to alcohol can lead to a cluster of life-altering problems including trouble learning, remembering and paying attention. Though estimates are imprecise, experts estimate that as many as two to five of every 100 U.S. schoolchildren have lasting problems resulting from early alcohol exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Recent related research showed that neuroinflammation soon after birth could impair learning and memory later in life and that anti-inflammatory treatment has the power to prevent those impairments.
In this study, Lindquist and his co-authors set out to examine the role of neuroinflammation in the development of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and cognitive dysfunction.
Some of the animals in the study were exposed to alcohol four to nine days after birth - the scientific equivalent of the third trimester in human pregnancy.
Alcohol-exposed rats given ibuprofen had lower levels of inflammation in the brain than those given saline solution. Twenty-five days later they also exhibited enhanced long-term memory.
The research helps define the role of the brain's immune system and inflammation in particular in the development of cognitive dysfunction after fetal alcohol exposure, Lindquist said.
While it's too soon to speculate on implications in humans, it could pave the way for future research into potential treatments for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and other neurological problems, said lead author Molly Goodfellow, who worked on the study as an Ohio State graduate student and is now at the University of Maryland.
"We hope that our work will promote future studies to determine how long neuro inflammation persists after alcohol exposure and if anti-inflammatory therapies might work if administered after birth or later in life to improve cognitive function in people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders."
Lindquist and Goodfellow said it's important to note that ibuprofen is not recommended for pregnant women because of risks to the mother and the fetus.
"At this point in our study, the ibuprofen is kind of like using a sledgehammer to reduce neuroinflammation. It's possible other anti-inflammatory drugs could have similar pro-cognitive effects with less risk," Lindquist said.
Ibuprofen may block damage from fetal-alcohol exposure - ( https://news.osu.edu/news/2017/11/14/research-ibuprofen-fetal-alcohol/)