Study highlights new drug risk in pregnancy

LONDON Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:42am IST

Related Topics

Rajalakshmi (C), 28, smiles after winning the Miss Wheelchair India beauty pageant in Mumbai November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Miss Wheelchair India

Seven women from across India participated in the country's second wheelchair beauty pageant, which aims to open doors for the wheelchair-bound in modelling, film and television, according to organisers  Slideshow 

LONDON (Reuters) - Pregnant women who use cocaine or heroin while taking methadone to beat their addiction may weaken their placenta, opening the door to dangerous infections that could further harm an unborn baby, researchers said on Thursday.

Their study in a laboratory found that exposure to either of the drugs in the presence of methadone -- used to wean people off narcotics -- harmed the placenta and allowed other dangerous substances through the organ's protective barrier.

"As the consumption of illegal drugs, especially cocaine, is increasing in many countries, our results ... may improve the practical management in monitoring pregnant women," Antoine Malek of Zurich University Hospital and colleagues reported.

"More toxic substances or bacteria and viruses may cross the placenta and harm the fetus."

The placenta is an organ rich in blood vessels that develops in the lower part of the womb during pregnancy. It transfers oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the fetus and is expelled after birth.

The researchers collected placentas from uncomplicated pregnancies after caesarean section from a group of volunteers. Experiments showed that while the drugs did not increase the transfer of methadone, they did allow other toxic substances or bacteria to seep through.

The findings, published in BioMed Central's Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, suggest this somehow compromises the protective barrier function of the placenta, the researchers said.

(Reporting by Michael Kahn; editing by Tim Pearce)

FILED UNDER:

Ebola Outbreak

Reuters Showcase

Ebola Crisis

Ebola Crisis

U.N. to miss Dec 1 Ebola target due to rising Sierra Leone cases.  Full Article 

Tobacco Curbs

Tobacco Curbs

China considers tougher tobacco controls: Xinhua.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

Pay per puff? Caffeine stick? E-cigarette boom sparks race for new patents  Full Article 

Healthy Diet

Healthy Diet

Studies examine U.S. meals in schools.  Full Article 

Fatal Accidents

Fatal Accidents

Helmets, engine size important in child deaths on ATVs.  Full Article 

Fertility Woes

Fertility Woes

Little understood chemicals cut men’s fertility.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage