OSU Logo Birth weight may create a major impact on the ability to process medications in later life, or at least the following tidbit suggests so. According to a latest research commenced by the Oregon State University, a mother’s poor nutrition during pregnancy and nursing triggers problems for the newborn to process medications even in adulthood. It was suggested that prior to prescribing drugs from Tylenol to cancer chemotherapies, physicians need to consider birth weight along with current body weight.

While conducting the research, kidneys of underweight animals born to mothers fed with low-protein diets during pregnancy and nursing were scrutinized. It appeared that the kidneys were less capable of processing and transporting drugs than animals whose mothers were provided with adequate protein. So, low birth weight possibly hampers the body’s ability to accurately process therapeutic drugs and lower their efficacy. Researchers believe that the protein called as drug transporter may be responsible for this complication. Seated on the cell membrane, these transporters possibly grab the drug molecules from the blood and put them into the cell. After this, a second set of transporters seemingly pull the medication from the cell and throw it into the urine.

Ganesh Cherala, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy who works at the OSU College of Pharmacy’s Portland laboratory at the Oregon Health Science University downtown waterfront facility, elucidated, “Let’s say I’m low birth weight, and because of that I become obese. If you dose me because of that higher body weight, you’re actually compounding the problem. You’re making the assumption that if you’re higher body weight, you have more transporters. Actually, it’s exactly the opposite. The main goal of our lab is to discover how we can use birth weight to optimize the dose and personalize the dosing regimen.”

In the process of examining low birth-weight animals, the transporters Organic Anion Transporter (OAT 1) and P Glycoprotein (Pgp) were inspected. Both the transporters appeared two to 50 times less prevalent as compared to that the normal birth-weight animals. The results were noted on the basis of age and transporter type. The difference was apparently prominent in genders, with females developing a greater deficit over time. Due to less number of kidney transporters, fewer drugs may be excreted out of the body and can result in toxic buildup of drugs in the blood.

The research will be presented on November 16 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists in New Orleans.