Prenatal Alcohol Exposure in Ukraine

Studies conducted by the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD)


Woman refusing wine in pregnancyAs part of the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA)-funded Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD), our research team has been working in close collaboration with the OMNI-Net Ukraine Birth Defects Prevention Program to conduct global research and education over the last 15 years. OMNI-Net is a non-profit organization comprised of experts who provide birth defects surveillance, education, training, family support, and prevention activities across several regions in Ukraine. Our long-standing collaboration in Ukraine has been led by Lead Scientist at UC San Diego, Dr. Wladimir Wertelecki, who is the primary liaison and Scientific Director for this ground-breaking work.

Research collaborations in Ukraine led by Dr. Wertelecki (pictured at right) have focused on the earlier identification and prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in several key areas:

  • Does maternal nutrition affect the risk for FASD and can nutritional supplements improve the outcome for alcohol-exposed infants?
  • Can novel and easily administered neurodevelopmental screening approaches be used in infants as early as six months of age to identify infants who are in most need of early intervention?
  • Can we develop novel biomarkers to more objectively identify risk exposure to alcohol and potentially predict children at highest risk of developmental delays?
  • Can we better understand the various mechanisms that might underlie the effects of alcohol on the developing baby (e.g., genetic and epigenetic factors; markers of inflammation) and that might lead to new treatments?

Wertelecki With Dr. Wertelecki and the Principal Investigators in Ukraine, Dr. Lyubov Yevtushok and Dr. Natalya Zymak-Zakutnya, findings from these research activities have helped inform interventions. As a result, members of the research team have engaged in trainings for clinicians across Ukraine, and have partnered with OMNI-Net to develop the first Ukrainian Teratogen Information Service (UTIS).

Links to selected publications from the volume of work produced by this collaboration are below.

  1. Persistent Changes in Stress Regulatory Genes in Pregnant Woman or a Child With Prenatal Alcohol Exposure. Sarkar DK, Gangisetty O, Wozniak JR, Eckerle JK, Georgieff MK, Foroud TM, Wetherill L, Wertelecki W, Chambers CD, Riley E, Zymak-Zakutnya N, Yevtushok L. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2019 Jul 22. doi: 10.1111/acer.14148. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 31329297
  2. Patterns of Prenatal Alcohol Use That Predict Infant Growth and Development. Bandoli G, Coles CD, Kable JA, Wertelecki W, Yevtushok L, Zymak-Zakutnya N, Wells A, Granovska IV, Pashtepa AO, Chambers CD; CIFASD. Pediatrics. 2019 Feb;143(2). pii: e20182399. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-2399. Epub 2019 Jan 4. PMID: 30610099
  3. Gestational age and socioeconomic status as mediators for the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure on development at 6 months. Coles CD, Kable JA, Granovska IV, Pashtepa AO, Plotka LD, Dolhov VB, Wertelecki W, Jones KL, Chambers CD; CIFASD. Birth Defects Res. 2019 Jul 15;111(12):789-796. doi: 10.1002/bdr2.1408. Epub 2018 Oct 31. PMID: 30378744
  4. Altered maternal immune networks are associated with adverse child neurodevelopment: Impact of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Bodnar TS, Raineki C, Wertelecki W, Yevtushok L, Plotka L, Zymak-Zakutnya N, Honerkamp-Smith G, Wells A, Rolland M, Woodward TS, Coles CD, Kable JA, Chambers CD, Weinberg J; Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD). Brain Behav Immun. 2018 Oct;73:205-215. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2018.05.004. Epub 2018 May 5. PMID: 29738852
  5. Implications of altered maternal cytokine concentrations on infant outcomes in children with prenatal alcohol exposure. Sowell KD, Uriu-Adams JY, Van de Water J, Chambers CD, Coles CD, Kable JA, Yevtushok L, Zymak-Zakutnya N, Wertelecki W, Keen CL; Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD). Alcohol. 2018 May;68:49-58. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2017.08.006. Epub 2017 Aug 12. PMID: 29453023
  6. OmniNet Logo

  7. Vitamin D Deficiency in Pregnant Ukrainian Women: Effects of Alcohol Consumption on Vitamin D Status. Carlson CR Jr, Uriu-Adams JY, Chambers CD, Yevtushok L, Zymak-Zakutnya N, Chan PH, Schafer JJ, Wertelecki W, Keen CL. J Am Coll Nutr. 2017 Jan;36(1):44-56. doi: 1080/07315724.2016.1174091. PMID: 28169608
  8. The Use of Cardiac Orienting Responses as an Early and Scalable Biomarker of Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Impairment. Mesa DA, Kable JA, Coles CD, Jones KL, Yevtushok L, Kulikovsky Y, Wertelecki W, Coleman TP, Chambers CD; CIFASD. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2017 Jan;41(1):128-138. doi: 10.1111/acer.13261. Epub 2016 Nov 24. PMID: 27883195
  9. Plasma miRNA Profiles in Pregnant Women Predict Infant Outcomes following Prenatal Alcohol Exposure.
  10. Balaraman S, Schafer JJ, Tseng AM, Wertelecki W, Yevtushok L, Zymak-Zakutnya N, Chambers CD, Miranda RC. PLoS One. 2016 Nov 9;11(11):e0165081. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165081. eCollection 2016. PMID: 27828986
  11. Second-Trimester Ultrasound as a Tool for Early Detection of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Montag AC, Hull AD, Yevtushok L, Zymak-Zakutnya N, Sosyniuk Z, Dolhov V, Jones KL, Wertelecki W, Chambers CD; CIFASD. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2016 Nov;40(11):2418-2425. doi: 10.1111/acer.13232. Epub 2016 Sep 30. PMID: 27688069
  12. Cardiac Orienting Responses Differentiate the Impact of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure in Ukrainian Toddlers. Kable JA, Coles CD, Jones KL, Yevtushok L, Kulikovsky Y, Wertelecki W, Chambers CD; CIFASD. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2016 Nov;40(11):2377-2384. doi: 10.1111/acer.13221. Epub 2016 Sep 21. PMID: 27650880
  13. Assessing the Independent and Joint Effects of Unmedicated Prenatal Depressive Symptoms and Alcohol Consumption in Pregnancy and Infant Neurodevelopmental Outcomes. Bandoli G, Coles CD, Kable JA, Wertelecki W, Granovska IV, Pashtepa AO, Chambers CD; CIFASD. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2016 Jun;40(6):1304-11. doi: 10.1111/acer.13081. Epub 2016 Apr 30. PMID: 27129610
  14. The impact of micronutrient supplementation in alcohol-exposed pregnancies on information processing skills in Ukrainian infants. Kable JA, Coles CD, Keen CL, Uriu-Adams JY, Jones KL, Yevtushok L, Kulikovsky Y, Wertelecki W, Pedersen TL, Chambers CD; CIFASD. Alcohol. 2015 Nov;49(7):647-56. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2015.08.005. Epub 2015 Sep 25. PMID: 26493109
  15. Dose and Timing of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Maternal Nutritional Supplements: Developmental Effects on 6-Month-Old Infants. Coles CD, Kable JA, Keen CL, Jones KL, Wertelecki W, Granovska IV, Pashtepa AO, Chambers CD; CIFASD. Matern Child Health J. 2015 Dec;19(12):2605-14. doi: 10.1007/s10995-015-1779-x. PMID: 26164422
  16. Prevalence and predictors of maternal alcohol consumption in 2 regions of Ukraine. Chambers CD, Yevtushok L, Zymak-Zakutnya N, Korzhynskyy Y, Ostapchuk L, Akhmedzhanova D, Chan PH, Xu R, Wertelecki W. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 Apr;38(4):1012-9. doi: 10.1111/acer.12318. PMID: 24834525
  17. Paternal drinking, intimate relationship quality, and alcohol consumption in pregnant Ukrainian women. Bakhireva LN, Wilsnack SC, Kristjanson A, Yevtushok L, Onishenko S, Wertelecki W, Chambers CD. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2011 Jul;72(4):536-44. PMID: 21683035