How Alcohol Affects Newborns, Farxiga for Heart Failure, CCBs and Diuretics

Alcohol and Tobacco and Baby's Brains

Though it’s general knowledge that you shouldn’t drink or smoke when pregnant, there’s a surprisingly low number of studies — just three — that explore the effects that alcohol and tobacco have on a newborn’s brain. Though they’re not surprising, the results of the study are, without a doubt, important knowledge.

A new heart failure drug approved by the FDA is proven effective but also has some disturbing side effects, and patients taking calcium channel blockers are also being prescribed diuretics for the wrong reasons.

Mothers’ Tobacco and Alcohol Use on Newborns

From June 2018 to June 2019, 1,739 newborn babies were examined to study the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol (PEA) and prenatal tobacco exposure (PTE) on the brain development of newborns. Fewer than 30% of women abstained from both smoking and drinking.

Newborn baby brain activity was recorded using an EEG. The findings indicate that both alcohol and tobacco affect different frequencies of brain waves, pushing them outside of the normal ranges. The findings were not conclusive and only measured newborns. What’s more, the effects of the substances in the long term were not measured in this study.

So, for now, the advice to avoid both alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy seems the safest way to a healthy baby.

Association Between Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol and Tobacco and Neonatal Brain Activity – JAMA May 12, 2020

Farxiga and Heart Failure 

On May 5, 2020, the FDA approved Farxiga (dapagliflozin) for adults with heart failure severe enough that the heart pumps out less than 40% of the blood in the chamber on each beat (called reduced fragment ejection).

Farxiga is also FDA-approved to help improve glycemic control in type-2 diabetics (along with diet and exercise).

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, a total of 4,744 patients were divided into two groups — one took a placebo and the other half took 10 milligrams of Farxiga. After 18 months, the Farxiga group had fewer cardiovascular deaths, hospitalizations due to heart failure, and urgent heart failure visits compared to the control group.

Possible side effects of Farxiga are known because of its use with type-2 diabetes. They include:

  • Dehydration
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Kidney problems (specifically in the elderly)
  • Necrotizing fasciitis of the perineum, aka Fournier’s Gangrene

FDA approves new treatment for a type of heart failure – FDA Press Release

Blood Pressure Drugs 

It turns out that taking CCBs (or calcium channel blockers) may lead to a cascade of unnecessary prescriptions, a population-based cohort study found.

In older populations taking CCBs for hypertension, the study found a 1.4 percent increase in the dispensing of diuretics 90 days within taking CCBs. CCBs can cause swelling in limbs (peripheral edema). Prescribing a diuretic would indicate the symptom was misdiagnosed as a new medical condition and not a side effect of the CCBs.

Diuretics have their own set of side effects which include: too little or too much potassium in the blood, headaches, dizziness, and in serious cases, allergic reactions, kidney failure, and irregular heartbeat.

Awareness among clinicians about CCB side effects needs to be raised to avoid prescribing unnecessary drugs. Whenever a new symptom appears, be sure to remind your health care provider of all medicines you are taking so that side effects can be considered.

Evaluation of a Common Prescribing Cascade of Calcium Channel Blockers and Diuretics in Older Adults With Hypertension – JAMA, Feb 24, 2020



Andrew Gutman

Andrew Gutman

Andrew Gutman is a Senior Associate Editor for Muscle & Fitness, and a contributing writer for Men's Journal and Business Insider. He graduated from Springfield College with a degree in Journalism and Communications in 2015.

Did you find this article helpful?

Latest News

Synthetic Red Blood Cells, NOAC’s for Atrial Fibrillation, Surgery to Ease Sciatica Pain

Synthetic Red Blood Cells, NOAC’s for Atrial Fibrillation, Surgery to Ease Sciatica Pain

Researchers have managed to create artificial red blood cells that can transport medication. Compared to the popular anticoagulant Warfarin, NOAC’s may be superior for treating atrial fibrillation patients with prior intracranial hemorrhage. Also, surgery may be the preferred choice for reducing leg pain in patients with sciatica.  Synthetic Red Blood…

FDA Recalls Metformin and NP Thyroid

FDA Recalls Metformin and NP Thyroid

The FDA has issued a recall of two drugs–NP Thyroid and Metformin–after testing revealed that they weren’t up to code. Read more below, and if you’re taking either medication, please be sure to contact your doctor for how to continue treatment responsibly.  NP Thyroid Recalled Thirteen lots of NP Thyroid,…

  • Advertisement