Possible Genetic Risk for Fetal Alcohol Disorders, Identified


A recent animal study indicates that certain infants and children who carry a certain gene variant may be more vulnerable to fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition characterized by severe mental retardation, with deficits in learning, attention, memory and impulse control. The study’s results may also help to explain why some children of mothers who drink during pregnancy suffer birth defects, while others seem to escape unharmed.

What the researchers found is that fetal alcohol-exposed infants who carried a copy of the short form [of the serotonin transporter gene promoter]were more irritable and reactive to stress than either control group infants who weren’t exposed to alcohol or those who were exposed but had two copies of the gene’s long form. Overall, says Schneider, the results indicate a “substantial interaction” between fetal alcohol exposure and genotype.


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