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Mother-baby pH: birth defect clue?

Mother/baby pH: Birth defect clue?

Scientists know little about the mechanisms of chemical teratogenicity -- how and why certain chemicals injure an embryo. Now, William Scott Jr. at the Children's Hospital Research Foundation in Cincinnati and Heinz Nau at the Freie Universitat in West Berlin suggest that pH may provide a clue.

The researchers report in the Sept. 18 NATURE that the pH in the cells of early mouse embryos is considerably higher than the plasma pH of their mothers. This embryonic alkalinity could lead to an accumulation of acids -- and it is known that human teratogens, at least, are in general weak acids. The researchers do not know whether human embryos are similarly alkaline in comparison to the plasma of their mothers. But, Scott speculates, the pH gradient may "help to accumulate enough of the agent into the embryo for it to do its damage."
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Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 18, 1986
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