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Brain Res Bull. 1990 Feb;24(2):207-12.

Effects of prenatal exposure to cocaine or related drugs on rat developmental and neurological indices.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858.


Although increasing numbers of infants born to cocaine abusing mothers are of grave concern, little is known of the long term development of these children. To determine the long term effects of cocaine on a developing fetus, gravid rats were dosed SC throughout pregnancy with either saline, amfonelic acid (AFA, 1.5 mg/kg), amitriptyline (10 mg/kg) or cocaine (15 mg/kg b.i.d.) and the male pups fostered by surrogate rats. Compared to saline offspring, cocaine- and amitriptyline-exposed litters were underweight at birth, but there were no differences between groups at 15 or 30 days of age. There were more birth defects and stillbirths in cocaine-exposed offspring, however, there were no differences in male/female sex ratios or litter size in any group. Number of days to righting reflex was delayed in the cocaine-exposed group, but there were no changes in time to eye opening. Cocaine- and amitriptyline-exposed pups were hyperactive at 30 days of age, though no differences were found in an initial 15-min exploration period. Only the AFA-exposed offspring were hyperactive at 60 days postnatal. Since cocaine and amitriptyline decreased birth weights, this effect may be related to the nondopaminergic effects of cocaine. These data demonstrate that cocaine exposure in utero at relevant doses can affect neonatal outcome and long term development in rat offspring.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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