17-40 Segment 1: A Possible Treatment For Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

 

 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can cause many physical and mental problems that last a lifetime.  Dr. Eva Redei, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University, says that most children who grow up with fetal alcohol syndrome usually never live independently because their neurodevelopment was stalled, and if they make it to adulthood they will require help. Babies with the most severe form of FAS are characterized by wide-set eyes, a flattened crease above the upper lip, a low IQ, and other cognitive and behavioral issues. About one percent of children born in the US have a severe form of fetal alcohol syndrome, with two to five percent falling on the fetal alcohol spectrum. But because there is no definitive test, some children are never diagnosed on the spectrum.

Dr. Joanne Rovet of Hospital for Sick Children explains that adults with fetal alcohol syndrome are at risk for mental illness. They also have an increased chance of getting in trouble with the law. About fifty percent of juvenile delinquents had prenatal alcohol exposure.

A study conducted by Dr. Redei on rats indicates that FAS can be treated at birth. Rats were given alcohol and split into two groups, with one group’s babies given a thyroid drug or a diabetic drug like metformin. The other group of babies which wasn’t given medication showed signs of FAS. Both drugs were shown to reduce or reverse the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure. Dr. Redei is now working on starting a human trial.

Guest:

  • Maggie, parent of son with fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Dr. Eva Redei, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University
  • Dr. Joanne Rovet, Senior Scientists, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, and Senior Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto

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17-40 Segment 2: Declining Fertility Rates

 

SInce the great recession, birth rates have been on a downward trend, falling to a record low for all groups under 30. Richard Jackson, founder of the Global Aging Institute, says since the recession it has become harder to have an independent household, and for young people to find jobs. This has caused young women to focus on their economic stability before bringing a child into the situation. He says we don’t know yet if women in their twenties will go on to have more kids in their thirties, and catch up to past generations’ birth rates at a later age. A declining birth rate may lead to serious national problems as a result of a smaller labor force and elderly population.

With this decline in the birth rate, Jackson sees the U.S shifting some policies to make the change doable. He is not suggesting we go into another baby boom, but maybe a rise in immigration rates could help with the issues. Jackson does recognize that the birth rate has declined in teens and that is good news for the future of the country.

Dr. Elise Barlan, Young Women’s Contraception Program, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH, says that the birth rates have been declining in adolescents since the 1960’s. She attributes the decline in the most recent years to the use of contraceptives, meaning fewer unintentional or unwanted pregnancies, which may also indicate that that more of the women who are having babies now want them and have planned to become pregnant once they are in a more stable position to raise a child.

Birth rates in the US are at an all time low, and fertility for all age groups under age 30 is dropping. Experts explain that it may not be as good a thing as we may think, and cite nations like Japan and Italy, which are facing labor shortages and elderly populations as a result of less-than-replacement-level fertility..

Guest:

  • Richard Jackson, President & founder, Global Aging Institute
  • Dr. Elise Berlan, Director, Young Women’s Contraception Program, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH

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Medical Notes 17-40

 

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