Graham Parker (Wayne State University), a pediatrics researcher, and colleagues gathered umbilical cord blood from women who delivered by c-section to determine whether nicotine and alcohol affect the development of stem cells in the umbilical cord blood.

They isolated the stem cells that make infants’ and adults’ blood and exposed the cells to alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.

The study, which was presented at a stem cell conference in Toronto, Canada, finds that stem cell growth is not significantly affected by low doses of alcohol but high doses destroy the cells. The researchers also reported that adding nicotine to cells previously exposed to alcohol appeared to prevent the cells from dying. Parker said this might be a negative result because it might mean that damaged cells are left alive, which could prevent a fetus that should miscarry from doing so thereby increasing the risk of birth defects.

Source: Washington Post, 7/1
Link [www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=38352]