The impact of micronutrient supplementation in alcohol-exposed pregnancies on information processing skills in Ukrainian infants


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31 Scopus citations


The potential of micronutrients to ameliorate the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) was explored in a clinical trial conducted in Ukraine. Cardiac orienting responses (ORs) during a habituation/dishabituation learning paradigm were obtained from 6 to 12 month-olds to assess neurophysiological encoding and memory. Women who differed in prenatal alcohol use were recruited during pregnancy and assigned to a group (No study-provided supplements, multivitamin/mineral supplement, or multivitamin/mineral supplement plus choline supplement). Heart rate was collected for 30 s prior to stimulus onset and 12 s post-stimulus onset. Difference values (HR) for the first 3 trials of each condition were aggregated for analysis. Gestational blood samples were collected to assess maternal nutritional status and changes as a function of the intervention. Choline supplementation resulted in a greater HR on the visual habituation trials for all infants and for the infants with no PAE on the dishabituation trials. The latency of the response was reduced in both conditions for all infants whose mothers received choline supplementation. Change in gestational choline level was positively related to HR during habituation trials and levels of one choline metabolite, dimethylglycine (DMG), predicted HR during habituation trials and latency of responses. A trend was found between DMG and HR on the dishabituation trials and latency of the response. Supplementation did not affect ORs to auditory stimuli. Choline supplementation when administered together with routinely recommended multivitamin/mineral prenatal supplements during pregnancy may provide a beneficial impact to basic learning mechanisms involved in encoding and memory of environmental events in alcohol-exposed pregnancies as well as non- or low alcohol-exposed pregnancies. Changes in maternal nutrient status suggested that one mechanism by which choline supplementation may positively impact brain development is through prevention of fetal alcohol-related depletion of DMG, a metabolic nutrient that can protect against overproduction of glycine, during critical periods of neurogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-656
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 19 2015


  • Cardiac orienting
  • Choline
  • Infants
  • Micronutrient supplementation
  • Prenatal alcohol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Medicine(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Toxicology
  • Health(social science)


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