Minerva: April 2002
Magnetic resonance scans showed a number of structural brain abnormalities in 17 children with school problems who had been exposed to alcohol in utero. Deviations in the development of the vermis were the most sensitive indicator of prenatal alcohol exposure, although no specific structural abnormality correlated with a particular cognitive deficit (Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 2002;44:98-106).
Liver metastases associated with gastrointestinal malignancies tend to present late, and radiological investigations can give false negative results in the early stages. Looking for a simple laboratory technique to detect liver metastases, researchers hit on high molecular weight alkaline phosphatase (determined by electrophoresis). In a comparison of levels in 50 patients with gastrointestinal cancers with 20 healthy volunteers, this test offered 54% sensitivity and 88.5% specificity (Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology 2001;12:253-7). The authors say this makes it a useful marker. Others may disagree.
Antinuclear antibodies, commonly associated with autoimmune diseases, may in future