Study highlights new drug risk in pregnancy

LONDON Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:42am IST

Related Topics

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:

Fighting Ebola

Reuters Showcase

Markets Weekahead

Markets Weekahead

Column - Caution advised in a trader’s market  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

RBI seen holding rates steady on Tuesday, minority of analysts expect cut  Full Article 

GDP Revised

GDP Revised

Economic growth revised up by almost 50 percent  Full Article 

Australian Open

Australian Open

Hingis wins Australian Open mixed doubles title with Paes   Full Article 

Houston's Daughter

Houston's Daughter

Bobbi Kristina Brown revived after found unresponsive in tub  Full Article 

India Art Fair

India Art Fair

Art fair turns India's capital into art hub.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Rahasya" is an ode to Agatha Christie.  Full Article 

Review: Hawaizaada

Review: Hawaizaada

Movie Review: Hawaizaada  Full Article | Related Story 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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