Poor Sleep Linked to Cognitive Issues in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Donald A. Wilson, Ph.D. Professor, Departments of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Neuroscience & Physiology NYU Langone Medical Center Senior Research Scientist Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research

Dr. Donald Wilson

Donald A. Wilson, Ph.D.
Professor, Departments of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Neuroscience & Physiology
NYU Langone Medical Center
Senior Research Scientist
Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Wilson: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is characterized by cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems that are life-long. Generally, it is assumed that the initial trauma of alcohol exposure at a critical time in life is the cause of these problems. In this study using an animal model of FASD, we find that developmental alcohol causes a life-long disturbance in sleep. Given that sleep is important for memory and emotion, among other things, this suggests that developmental alcohol can produce a daily insult to the brain, far outlasting that initial exposure. Each night, the brain is unable to store memories, adjust emotional circuits, remove waste products, in the way that it should, because FASD has disrupted sleep.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Wilson: Sleep impairments in those with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder may contribute to cognitive problems.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Wilson: We find that some of the cognitive problems following developmental alcohol are predicted by how disrupted sleep is. We are currently exploring whether treatment of sleep disorders in our animal model can reverse some of the cognitive effects of development alcohol exposure. If so, sleep therapy could potentially help individuals with FASD.

Citation:

Developmental ethanol exposure-induced sleep fragmentation predicts adult cognitive impairment

Neuroscience Volume 322, 13 May 2016, Pages 18–27

D.A. Wilson, K. Masiello, M.P. Lewin, M. Hui, J.F. Smiley, M. Saito

Donald A. Wilson, Ph.D (2016). Poor Sleep Linked to Cognitive Issues in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome