Along with growth retardation, head and face abnormalities, and neurological problems, FAS also causes heart problems in just over half of those with this condition.
To investigate the cause of these alcohol-induced heart defects, Ganga Karunamuni of Case Western University and her colleagues studied heart formation in quail embryos, whose heart development is very similar to that of humans.
The researchers used an innovative imaging technique, optical coherence tomography, to compare embryos exposed to a single, large dose of alcohol to those who hadn't received alcohol.
They looked both at how alcohol changed the function of the developing hearts as well as their structure. They found that significant changes in heart function appeared to come well before changes in structure that are hallmarks of the well-known FAS heart anomalies.
These changes in function, the study authors suggest, might be the cause of the structural problems that arise later by exerting forces on the heart that change its development.
The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology- Heart and Circulatory Physiology.
--ANI (Posted on 31-12-2013)