Study Shows The Effects Of Prenatal Drug Exposure On Child Development

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Brain News

Researchers at the University of Helsinki studied the effects of prenatal drug exposure on child development. The team particularly explored how utero-exposure to mothers’ antiepileptic or antidepressant medication may affect the development of the newborns’ brain networks. The study is published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

The Study

The researchers analyzed EEG data collected from two groups during active sleep (AS) and quiet sleep (QS). The first group was a group of infants who were utero-exposed to antidepressants and the second was a healthy control group. Then, their brains’ cortical network properties were calculated using advanced mathematical techniques.

The research team also compared the results of prenatal exposure to medications in both humans and laboratory animals to understand the long-term underpinnings of drug effects.

The Findings

The results shed insight into how fetal brain development is affected by changes in the intrauterine environment. It revealed that fetal exposure to drugs like antiepileptics and antidepressants leads to widespread changes in the cortical networks. It was also seen that the effects of the drug varied according to the type of exposure, even though both drug types affected brain networks and sleep patterns.

For instance, the effect of the antidepressants are more pronounced in the local cortical networks, while antiepileptics affect brain-wide networks. This, in turn, affected children’s neuropsychological development in later years.

A “novel” Study

The researchers are enthusiastic that the research can help formulate better maternal drug treatment and other health plans involving a mother’s nutrition, environmental factors, etc. It can also help develop better childbirth medication that does not disturb infants’ brain development.

One of the lead researchers, Professor Sampsa Vanhatalo, elaborated: “The EEG measurement technique developed at the BABA Center and its associated state-of-the-art mathematical assessment of the brain’s neural networks constitute breakthroughs in clinical research on early neurodevelopment.”

To Know More You May Refer To

Tokariev, A., Oberlander, V. C., Videman, M., & Vanhatalo, S. (2022). Cortical Cross-Frequency Coupling Is Affected by in utero Exposure to Antidepressant Medication. Frontiers in neuroscience, 16, 803708.

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