Research at the University of Pennsylvania showed that male offspring of male rats that used cocaine were less likely to become addicted to the drug after having experienced it, and less likely to want the drug in the first place. Researchers found that cocaine use among males likely causes changes in the DNA that are transmitted to male offspring!
It seems that the neurons of the male offspring were less sensitive to cocaine. Normally, after repeated cocaine use, certain receptors in the brain are usually remodeled; this is part of the development of addiction. But in these male offspring, that didn’t happen.
This is important, because it will be interesting to see how these changes in behavior are passed down from generation to generation. Interestingly, this type of ‘immunity’ to addiction wasn’t seen in female offspring. Understanding the mechanisms behind this could potentially help lead to treatments for addiction.
New research in rats may really change your mind. There is plenty of evidence showing that exposure to nicotine while in utero can increase the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, birth defects, and SIDS. But if that isn’t enough to make expectant moms put out those cigarettes, maybe a new study done at the Rockefeller University in New York will change their minds.
A study in pregnant rats showed that nicotine exposure caused their babies to have addictive personalities. What happens is simple- nicotine exposure while in the womb increases the production of certain brain neurons that are responsible for stimulating appetite as well as reward mechanisms in the brain that promote addiction. The rat pups self-administered more nicotine and ate more fatty foods as adolescents.
The scariest part? The dosages in these experiments were about the same as the nicotine from just one cigarette a day. Quitting smoking can be difficult for various reasons, but hopefully this study will give expectant moms more of a reason to quit. We all want healthy, happy babies- make sure that your decisions are in the best interest of their long-term health, as well.
Check out details of the study here:
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