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United States Drug Testing Laboratories Unveils New Alcohol Biomarker in Umbilical Cord

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United States Drug Testing Laboratories (USDTL), a reference laboratory specializing in alcohol and drugs of abuse testing, today released a new assay testing umbilical cord for newborn alcohol exposure in utero. The CordStat EtOH assay screens for the direct alcohol biomarker phosphatidylethanol (PEth), an abnormal phospholipid formed in cell tissues following alcohol ingestion.

Fetal alcohol exposure has been recognized as the leading cause of preventable mental retardation and birth defects. Each year in the United States approximately 40,000 alcohol exposed newborns are diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. This condition can result in a variety of physical, behavioral and learning disorders. A recent SAMHSA survey reviewing data collected in 2009-2010 reported that 4.7 percent of pregnant women admitted binge or heavy drinking. Early identification is a key factor to improving outcomes for this group. Currently, identification relies on maternal self-report or the presence of a set of unique physical characteristics. Self-report has limited value in determining alcohol exposure and the physical characteristics may not appear until later in child’s development. The CordStat EtOH assay will identify a hazardous level of alcohol consumption occurring in the last 3-4 weeks of the pregnancy.

PEth in blood exists as a component of the red cell membrane. PEth is a mid-term biomarker measurable after a minimum exposure of approximately a six drink binge, within three weeks prior to delivery. Sample amount is approximately 6 inches of umbilical cord.

CordStat EtOH is an ideal clinical assay for healthcare practitioners concerned with monitoring newborns at high risk for having been exposed to alcohol during pregnancy and for developing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. The assay can be ordered as an add-on test to one of the company’s standard CordStat 5-, 7-, 9-, 12- and 13-drug panels.

Source: Newswise