Effect of Choline Supplementation on Neurological, Cognitive, and Behavioral Outcomes in Offspring Arising from Alcohol Exposure During Development: A Quantitative Systematic Review of Clinical and Preclinical Studies
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Copyright © 2018 by the Research Society on Alcoholism Prenatal alcohol exposure results in cognitive, behavioral, and neurological deficits in offspring. There is an urgent need for safe and effective treatments to overcome these effects. Maternal choline supplementation has been identified as a potential intervention. Our objective was to review preclinical and clinical studies using choline supplementation in known cases of fetal alcohol exposure to determine its effectiveness in ameliorating deficits in offspring. A systematic search of 6 electronic databases was conducted and studies selected by reviewing titles/abstracts against specific inclusion/exclusion criteria. Study characteristics, population demographics, alcohol exposure, and intervention methods were tabulated, and quality of reporting was assessed. Data on cognitive, behavioral, and neurological outcomes were extracted and tabulated. Quantitative analysis was performed to determine treatment effects for individual study outcomes. A total of 189 studies were retrieved following duplicate removal. Of these, 22 studies (2 randomized controlled trials, 2 prospective cohort studies, and 18 preclinical studies) met the full inclusion/exclusion criteria. Choline interventions were administered at different times relative to alcohol exposure, impacting on their success to prevent deficits for specific outcomes. Only 1 clinical study showed significant improvements in information processing in 6-month-old infants from mothers treated with choline during pregnancy. Preclinical studies showed significant amelioration of deficits due to prenatal alcohol exposure across a wide variety of outcomes, including epigenetic/molecular changes, gross motor, memory, and executive function. This review suggests that choline supplementation has the potential to ameliorate specific behavioral, neurological, and cognitive deficits in offspring caused by fetal alcohol exposure, at least in preclinical studies. As only 1 clinical study has shown benefit, we recommend more clinical trials be undertaken to assess the effectiveness of choline in preventing deficits across a wider range of cognitive domains in children.
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