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Paediatr Respir Rev. 2013 Mar;14(1):17-21. doi: 10.1016/j.prrv.2012.05.005. Epub 2012 Jun 29.

Perinatal exposure to alcohol: implications for lung development and disease.

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Department of Paediatrics, Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Emory University, Emory Children's Centre for Developmental Lung Biology, 2015 Uppergate Dr. NE, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


In utero alcohol exposure dramatically increases the risk of premature delivery. However, the majority of premature and term newborns exposed to alcohol remain undetected by medical caregivers. There is a desperate need for reliable and accurate biomarkers of alcohol exposure for the term and premature newborn population. The inability to identify the exposed newborn severely limits our understanding of alcohol's pathophysiological effects on developing organs such as the lung. This chapter will review potential advancements in future biomarkers of alcohol exposure for the newborn population. We will discuss alcohol's effects on redox homeostasis and cellular development of the neonatal lung. Finally, we will present the evidence describing in utero alcohol's derangement of innate and adaptive immunity and risk for infectious complications in the lung. Continued investigations into the identification and understanding of the mechanisms of alcohol-induced alterations in the premature lung will advance the care of this vulnerable patient population.

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