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Behav Pharmacol. 2012 Feb;23(1):105-12. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e32834ed866.

Maternal ethanol consumption by pregnant guinea pigs causes neurobehavioral deficits and increases ethanol preference in offspring.

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  • 1Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to ethanol, through maternal consumption of an aqueous ethanol solution, induces neurobehavioral deficits and increases ethanol preference in offspring. Pregnant Dunkin-Hartley-strain guinea pigs were given 24-h access to an aqueous ethanol solution (5%, v/v) sweetened with sucralose (1 g/l), or water sweetened with sucralose (1 g/l), throughout gestation. Spontaneous locomotor activity was measured in the offspring on postnatal day (PD) 10. The offspring underwent either ethanol preference testing using a two-bottle-choice paradigm beginning on PD 40 or Morris water maze testing using a hidden moving platform design beginning on PD 60. Maternal consumption of a 5% (v/v) ethanol solution (average daily dose of 2.3±0.1 g of ethanol/kg maternal body weight; range: 1.8-2.8 g/kg) decreased offspring birth weight, increased spontaneous locomotor activity, and increased preference for an aqueous ethanol solution. In the Morris water maze test, sucralose-exposed offspring decreased escape latency on the second day of testing, whereas the ethanol-exposed offspring showed no improvement. These data demonstrate that moderate maternal consumption of ethanol produces hyperactivity, enhances ethanol preference, and impairs learning and memory in guinea pig offspring.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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