Researchers at Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, showed that by including choline, a U.S.-required ingredient in baby formula, in the pre-natal diet of a rat, that symptoms of prenatal alcohol weren't evident in the young adult animal. At the same time, "we believe we have identified several physiological approaches that could serve as post-natal screening methods to identify babies with possible FAS or related diseases," John Claybaugh, head of the Tripler team said.
In addition, Claybaugh said there is some indication, or at least a possible correlation, that vasopressin could serve some function in cognitive development.
Claybaugh points out that vasopressin, along with the other neurohypophyseal hormone, oxytocin, was discovered over 100 years ago, before it was even known what a hormone was. "When most mammal fetuses are developing, the nerves in the brain that make vasopressin become almost fully developed," Claybaugh noted. "We recently published a paper showing that if alcohol is consumed during pregnancy, a rat's developing vasopressin nerves are damaged, and this damage lasts through adulthood because they synthesize less vasopressin in the brain and store less in the pituitary."
Could diabetes insipidus-like symptoms lead to FAS test?
With insufficient vasopressin, the rats drank more water and produced more dilute urine (diuresis) than normal. These are some of the classic symptoms of diabetes insipidus, a disease that also affects humans. Claybaugh's team found that stimuli which normally prompt vasopressin release such as low fluid volume or high osmotic concentrat