A new study will check the benefits of Prozac, an anti-depressant drug, on the fetuses that were diagnosed with Down's syndrome. The study will register 21 mothers pregnant with fetuses with Down's syndrome and 14 of them will have to take Prozac 18 to 20 weeks during the prenatal development of the fetuses and the rest 7 will take placebo. After birth, the children will take Prozac until 2 years of their life.
Doctors will study brain development through brain imaging study and will do the follow-up for the child's general health and developmental skills assessment.
Down's syndrome leads to fewer neurons in the brain and lower cognitive abilities which is caused due to an extra copy of chromosome 21.
Prozac have been tested on mice with that were pregnant with Down's syndrome and has shown positive effects. The drug caused the mice to give birth to babies with normal number of neurons and no signs of Down's syndrome.
The drug is also given to children with Down's syndrome to enhance their brain power. A lot of researches have linked intake of anti-depressants during pregnancy to rare birth defects but it is believed that the overall risk is very low.
"We think about what could be the potential downsides for the children, and what we really do is weigh the risk and the benefit," Tamminga reported in an interview to NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth. "So, what if this medication had an effect that really helped the child move from an IQ of 60 to an IQ of 90? I mean, that would be a miracle from our point of view. That's what we hope would happen and we would be willing to sustain a good deal of risk for that."
There is no cure for Down's syndrome found to date and positive results in this study can be a breakthrough in the health industry.