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Mom’s Past Drug Abuse May Alter Brain Chemistry of Offspring

I was reading an article by Tom Siegfried of Science News that got my attention.  A study suggests that moms -to -be that have used narcotics in their adolescence pass down an added risk for addiction and other psychiatric conditions to their children and grand children’s brain chemistry.

While studying brain chemistry, researchers at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Mass., exposed female rats to morphine for 10 days during adolescence.  After they were drug free for three weeks, they were allowed to mate with healthy males. It turns out that the male offspring of the rats had a deficiency of the  molecule sensitive to the chemical messenger dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a brain structure related to addiction and reward-seeking behavior. A similar deficit was found in the grand children of the original pair.

Problems with the brain’s dopamine system has been linked to addictive behavior and some mental illness.

Brain chemistry research is continuing to determine what caused the genes to be manipulated and passed down. This could be very valuable in the addiction medicine field in the future. Finding out what changes the dopamine system in the brain could help researchers figure out new ways to combat substance abuse.

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