AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Study Shows Lithium Chloride Blunts Brain Damage Linked to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

A single dose of lithium chloride, a drug used to treat bipolar disease and aggression, blocks the sleep disturbances, memory loss, and learning problems tied to fetal alcohol syndrome, new experiments in mice show.

Led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine, the new study found that giving the drug to newborn mice 15 minutes after “binge” alcohol consumption eliminated the hyperactivity and sleep deficits seen when rodents exposed to alcohol became adults. Moreover, the researchers report, lithium chloride-treated mice were much less likely to show the 25 percent drop in memory and cognitive test scores seen in untreated mice given the same amount of alcohol.

“Our study showed that lithium chloride prevented many of the damaging neurological effects of alcohol abuse on the still-developing brain, especially the impact on the parts of the brain controlling sleep,” says co-senior study investigator Donald Wilson, PhD.

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