Study: Antioxidants May Protect Fetus from Alcohol

Women who misuse alcohol during pregnancy may reduce their risk of having babies with birth defects by taking antioxidants, according to animal tests reported by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

A study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine found a 36-percent reduction in limb malformations in the offspring of pregnant mice that were exposed to ethanol and given an antioxidant. Researchers gave large amounts of alcohol to the mice to mimic the blood-alcohol level of chronic alcoholics.

“Virtually all children born with full-blown fetal alcohol syndrome, with major malformations caused by alcohol, are born to chronic alcoholics,” said researcher Kathleen Sulik, M.D., a professor of cell and developmental biology at the university.

“The nutritional status of alcoholics isn’t the best,” said Sulik. “People who are alcoholic by definition can’t control their drinking and often cannot quit drinking during pregnancy.”