Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Phenobarbital Linked to Lowering of Intelligence

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Phenobarbital Linked to Lowering of Intelligence

Article excerpt

A new study has shown a link between phenobarbital and the intelligence scores of men whose mothers took the drug during pregnancy.

Phenobarbital, a barbiturate, was commonly prescribed during the 1960s, 70s and early 80s as a sleeping aid and tranquilizer, and to pregnant women for pregnancy-related high. blood pressure, vomiting, and other problems, says June Machover Reinisch, a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University in Bloomington. Even today it remains an important treatment for pregnant women who have seizure disorders.

The study, which appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, tested two groups of Danish men born between 1959 and 1961. Those in the group whose mothers had taken phenobarbital during pregnancy -- mostly for pregnancy-related high blood pressure - scored an average of seven points lower on a hundred-point intelligence scale than those in the group who were not exposed to phenobarbital in the womb.

It was found further that the IQ scores were even lower for those men whose mothers took the drug if they came from impoverished families or if the pregnancies were unwanted. …

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