Common Pre-Term Labor Drug May Increase Fetal Risk from Common Pesticides
According to researchers at Duke University Medical Center there’s a significant chance that a drug commonly prescribed to halt pre-term labor and stave off premature birth might leave the brains of children susceptible to other chemicals widely present in the environment. And with 20% of all pregnancies in the U.S. encountering pre-term labor and 1 million of those being treated with terbutaline or related drugs to halt pre-term contractions and premature birth, there’s a real chance the child who may affected could be your own.Which is significant because the study found that rats exposed to terbutaline suffer greater brain cell damage than those not given the drug upon secondary exposure to the insecticide chlorpyrifos. Results which might help to explain earlier suggestions that children whose mothers are administered terbutaline suffer cognitive deficits.
As senior author of the study, Theodore Slotkin, Ph.D., and a professor of pharmacology and cancer biology at Duke pointed out, their work highlights the unpredictable and synergistic effects that exposure to multiple chemicals can have on the brain.
Effects on Brain Development from Terbutaline, PesticidesBoth chemicals independently caused brain injuries not seen in the control rats, including the loss of brain cells and the nerve cell projections critical to communication among neurons; and the effects persisted into adulthood. But the combined chemical treatment further aggravated the chemicals’ damaging effects on the brain, and portions of the brain central to learning and memory, including the hippocampus, suffered significant loss of brain cells and nerve cell projections in rats exposed to both chemicals while rats administered either chemical alone showed much smaller effects.
Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that here, once again, there is much to be learned about our interaction with the natural world. I wonder what might be a genuine, safe alternative to these types of drugs given the precarious position in which those who need them to ensure a safe pregnancy must find themselves?