'Healthy' component of red wine, resveratrol, causes pancreatic abnormalities in fetuses

Here's more evidence that pregnant women should be careful about what they eat and drink: A new research report appearing in the June 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal shows that when taken during pregnancy, resveratrol supplements led to developmental abnormalities in the fetal pancreas. This study has direct relevance to human health—Resveratrol is widely used for its recognized health benefits, and is readily available over the counter.

"The important message in this study is that women should be very careful about what they consume while pregnant, and they should not take supplements, like Resveratrol, without consulting with their doctors," said Kevin L. Grove, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Division of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism and the Division of Reproductive and Development Science at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. "What might be good for the mother may not be good for the baby."

To make this discovery, Grove and colleagues administered Resveratrol supplements every day throughout pregnancy to obese female macaque monkeys consuming a Western diet. A second group of obese monkeys were not given the supplement, and all comparisons were made against lean monkeys fed a healthy . The animals were closely monitored for health complications and blood flow through the placenta was determined by ultra sound. The fetuses were analyzed for , and findings showed definitive evidence of pancreatic abnormalities.

"We've known for a long time that resveratrol is pharmacologically active, and we're just now really beginning to understand the pros and cons of consuming high concentrations of this substance," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "As we begin to establish a safety profile for resveratrol and other , findings like this should come as no surprise. There are always negative side effects when you eat, drink, take or do too much of anything."

More information: Victoria H. J. Roberts, Lynley D. Pound, Stephanie R. Thorn, Melanie B. Gillingham, Kent L. Thornburg, Jacob E. Friedman, Antonio E. Frias, and Kevin L. Grove. Beneficial and cautionary outcomes of resveratrol supplementation in pregnant nonhuman primates. FASEB J. June 2014 28:2466-2477; DOI: 10.1096/fj.13-245472

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