Antioxidants May Protect against Birth Defects from Alcohol Abuse

Taking antioxidants during pregnancy may reduce the risk or even prevent birth defects in babies born to women who abuse alcohol, according to animal tests reported by the Federation of American Scientists for Experimental Biology.

The study, conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, found a 36% reduction in limb malfunction in the offspring of pregnant mice that were given large amounts of ethanol (beverage alcohol) and an antioxidant. The mice were given large amounts of alcohol to simulate the blood-alcohol level of chronic alcoholics.

Researcher Kathleen K. Sulik, M.D., says the implications of the study apply directly to alcoholics and explains that alcoholics can’t control their drinking and often can’t stop drinking during pregnancy. The idea of adding antioxidants has been proposed as a way of protecting the children of women who can’t stop drinking during pregnancy. She emphasizes that virtually all Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) victims are born to chronic alcoholics who couldn’t quit drinking during pregnancy.


  • Shao-yu Chen, Deborah B. Dehart, and Kathleen K. Sulik
  • Protection from ethanol-induced limb malformations by the superoxide dismutase/catalase mimetic, EUK-134. FASEB Journal, 2004, 18(19); Study: Antioxidants may protect fetus from alcohol. Join Together Online, 6-21-04; Can antioxidants diminish effects of alcohol during pregnancy? Medical Breakthroughs - Fertility & Pregnancy, 6-21-04.

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