Maternal drug use may alter brain’s functions in newborns

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New York, April 8 (IANS) Drug use during pregnancy may disrupt the functional connectivity in the part of your baby’s brain that plays an important role in arousal regulation, says a new study.

“To our knowledge, this study is the first to show that maternal drug use during pregnancy alters the brain’s functional organisation in newborns,” said one of the corresponding authors of the study Wei Gao, assistant professor of radiology in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in the US.

According to, arousal regulation refers to controlling of cognitive and physiological activation using natural or cognitive-behavioural methods.

“This study may inform new strategies aimed at early risk identification and intervention,” the study’s other corresponding author Karen Grewen, associate professor of psychiatry, neurobiology and psychology at the University of North Carolina, said.

The study found disruptions in functional connectivity within part of the amygdala-prefrontal network.

In the study, 152 infants were given resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) scans.

Of these, 45 had prenatal exposure to cocaine, 43 had prenatal exposure to drugs other than cocaine, and 64 had no known prenatal drug exposure.

Alterations in the brain’s functional organisation were found in both groups that had prenatal drug exposure.

The group with prenatal cocaine exposure had additional alterations that the other drug control group did not have.

The study appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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