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Pre-term Labor Drug Makes Babies' Brains Susceptible to Pesticide Injury

A drug, terbutaline, commonly prescribed to halt pre-term labor and stave off premature birth might leave the brains of children susceptible to chemicals that are everywhere in the environment, according to a study on animals. Rats exposed to the drug and later an insecticide had damage to brain regions known to play a role in learning and memory. The result might therefore help to explain earlier suggestions that children whose mothers are administered terbutaline suffer cognitive deficits. Each year about 1 million women are treated with terbutaline or related drugs to halt early contractions. The drugs administered to pregnant women also penetrate to the fetus where they affect brain development.

Drugs used to end premature labor may cause other problems as well, as they are associated with a number of side effects and have only been shown to delay birth by one or two days in trials. One of the most important factors to avoid premature delivery and give birth to a healthy child is to take fish oil or cod liver oil, which are both rich in omega-3.

EurekAlert! March 30, 2004

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