05 Dec Altered Brain Function Connectivity in Infants Exposed to Opioids in the Womb
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Rupa Radhakrishnan, MD
Assistant professor of Radiology and Imaging Sciences
Indiana University School of Medicine
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Opioid use in pregnancy is a major public health crisis. Opioids adversely impact maternal, fetal and infant health. Infants who were exposed to opioids in the womb, can have withdrawal symptoms soon after birth, and are also at risk for poor long term neurodevelopment outcomes.
Our group studied the changes in brain function in infants exposed to opioids in the womb, to understand how opioids affect the developing brain. We used resting state functional MRI to study these infants.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Our preliminary results suggest differences in brain functional connectivity, or the way the specific regions of the brain are connected, in infants exposed to opioids in the womb, compared to infants who were not exposed to opioids.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our early results suggest significant differences in brain functional connectivity in infants exposed to opioids in utero, when compared to infants not exposed to opioids in a small cohort of infants. This is exciting, because it provides us with a direction for future studies. We are now conducting larger studies to better characterize these differences in brain activity and understand how these changes would influence long-term behavior and neuro-developmental outcome.
If our findings are validated in larger studies, these methods could be used to compare the effect of different prenatal opioid replacement therapies and non-medication strategies on infant brain development. These methods could also potentially screen infants at risk for neonatal abstinence syndrome and poor long term neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcome. Identification of these at-risk infants early, would allow for early and more personalized interventions to improve long term outcomes.
The study was supported by the American Roentgen Ray Scholarship and the Radiological Society of North America Seed grant to Rupa Radhakrishnan PI
RSNA 2019 abstract:
Resting State Functional MRI Connectivity in Infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
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