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Folate prevents alcohol-induced congenital heart defects in mice
Date:5/24/2010

Tampa, FL (May 24, 2010) --- A new animal study has found that high levels of the B-vitamin folate (folic acid) prevented heart birth defects induced by alcohol exposure in early pregnancy, a condition known as fetal alcohol syndrome.

Researchers at the University of South Florida College of Medicine and All Children's Hospital report that the protection was afforded only when folate was administered very early in pregnancy and before the alcohol exposure. The dose that best protected against heart defects in mice was considerably higher than the current dietary recommendation of 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) daily for women of child-bearing age.

The findings were published online earlier this month in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

While more research is needed, the study has implications for re-evaluating folate supplementation levels during early pregnancy, said principal investigator Kersti Linask, PhD, the Mason Professor of Cardiovascular Development at USF and Children's Research Institute/All Children's Hospital.

"Congenital heart defects can occur in the developing embryo at a time when women typically do not even know they are pregnant 16 to 18 days following conception. They may have been drinking alcohol or using prescription drugs without realizing this could be affecting embryonic development," Dr. Linask said.

"We found that we could prevent alcohol-associated defects from arising in the mice -- provided folate was given in relatively high concentrations very early in pregnancy around conception."

In the USF study, two randomly assigned groups of pregnant mice were fed diets supplemented by folate in adjusted doses known from epidemiological studies to rescue human embryos from craniofacial birth defects. From the day after conception, one group received a high dose of folate supplementation (10.5 milligrams/kilogram) and the second received a moderate dose (6
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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@health.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida Health
Source:Eurekalert

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