Bryan Yamamoto

Digging in to the long-term consequences of in utero opioid exposure

Description of the video:

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Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: I’m Brady Atwood and I’m an assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and toxicology at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: My lab is very much interested in how drugs of abuse such as opioids affect how the brain functions.
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Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: Specifically looking at how it changes the way brain cells talk to one another and how that translates into changes of behavior…
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Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: with hopes of someday being able to find ways to undo some of those changes as ways to treat drug abuse and addiction.
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Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: So we do have a project with the Grand Challenges Responding to the Addictions Crisis.
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Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: Our project is very much focused on children that are born to mothers that were dependent on opioids or mothers that used opioids during pregnancy.
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Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: Increasingly in the news, opioids have been abused for a long time, but there's anincreasing number of children that are born to opioid dependent mothers.
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Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: And we don't quite know what the long-term outcomes for these children are.
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Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: We don’t know how this will affect their ability to learn and develop and social interactions. 
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 Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: We don't know how  this will affect gene expression and how that will affect their long term outcomes.
[Video: A child in a stroller drinking out of a bottle as other children play around near the child]
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Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: The Addictions Grand Challenge was a fantastic opportunity. We brought together nine different investigators for our project with a range of expertise from understanding pharmacology, understanding genetics, physiology
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Brady Atwood speaks in voiceover: and we all got together and brought our different expertises and are approaching this project from a lot of different angles to really capture every aspect that we can of how this opioid overexposure affects children.
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Although people abusing substances has been a long-term problem, the number of babies being born to mothers abusing substances such as opioids has seen unprecedented highs.

The number of babies born exposed to opioids has increased five-fold since 2000 and experts estimate that a baby with neonatal abstinence syndrome is now born in the U.S. every 15 minutes.  

While medication-assisted therapies such as methadone and buprenorphine are recommended for treatment of opioid use disorder in pregnant women, the long-term consequences of in-utero exposure to opioids, including medication-assisted therapies, on health and risk for substance abuse later in life are unknown.

Bryan Yamamoto, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Brady Atwood, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, are leading a highly collaborative study of the effects of in-utero exposure to opioids on neonatal, adolescent, and adult physiology and behavior as part of the Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge initiative.

Experts in the group explore opioid-induced changes to brain function, development, learning, musculoskeletal function, inflammation, genetics, and propensity for drug abuse.

The major questions the researchers are trying to answer are what are the long-term outcomes for children exposed to opioids in utero and how will it affect their ability to learn, their health, and their development?

These researchers hope that their findings will someday lead to identifying ways to undo some of those changes as ways to treat drug abuse and addiction and to develop better ways to treat opioid-dependent mothers in order to improve the outcomes for their children.