New Blood Test Detects Fetal Alcohol Disorders
Fetal alcohol disorders are a spectrum of mental and physical disabilities caused by exposure to alcohol before birth. FASDs can affect development and have long-lasting consequences. Researchers have now identified a blood test that can determine the severity of this condition during pregnancy.
In the United States and Western Europe, approximately 2 to 5 percent of school-age children are affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Worldwide, the number is even higher in some areas. A blood test to diagnose FASD during pregnancy could lead to earlier intervention and treatment—improving outcomes.
Researchers found that moderate or high levels of alcohol exposure during early pregnancy resulted in significant differences in biomarkers—specifically small RNA molecules called microRNAs—in maternal blood. The differences were more pronounced in mothers whose babies showed physical or neurobehavioral signs of FASD during their first year of life. Additional studies are being conducted.
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