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Monkeying with fetal alcohol syndrome.

As many as 1 woman in 500 who drink alcohol during pregnancy gives birth to a child afflicted with the physical facial abnormalities and mental retardation typical of fetal alcohol syndrome. To study how maternal alcohol consumption harms a fetus, researchers have generally turned to rodents. They have almost invariably found that pups of rodents given alcohol while pregnant suffer loss of many types of brain cells, including the Purkinje cells of the brain's cerebellum.

Babies of pigtailed macaques given large doses of alcohol once a week during pregnancy have similar losses of Purkinje cells, James R. West of the Texas A & M University in College Station and his colleagues now report in the August Teratology. In addition to confirming the rodent results in animals more similar to humans, the study found several normal- looking baby macaques that nevertheless had lost Purkinje cells.

Consequently, notes West, some children who do not display the facial defects typical of fetal alcohol syndrome may nonetheless suffer alcohol- induced brain damage.
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Title Annotation:babies of women who drink alcohol during pregnancy are prone to brain damage even if they do not have the facial defects typical of the syndrome
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 14, 1996
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