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Alcohol. 1986 Mar-Apr;3(2):101-6.

Teratogenic effects of lithium and ethanol in the developing fetus.


Prolonged administration of either lithium (7 mg/kg body wt.) or ethanol (30% of daily caloric intake) for 10 days to pregnant rats results in several anatomical abnormalities in the fetus. Intragastric administration of lithium carbonate to pregnant rats immediately after confirmation of pregnancy resulted in high incidence of cleft palate, growth retardation, brain liquification and pulpy brain, hepatomegaly and digital abnormalities, when compared to the saline-treated controls. Furthermore, lithium administration during gestation also resulted in other less frequently observed abnormalities in the fetus, e.g., cardiomegaly, hydronephrosis, ankle-joint defects, syndactyly, defected ribs and sternum ossification defects. Chronic ethanol consumption by pregnant rats during early gestation also resulted in several anatomical abnormalities of prenatal growth retardation, resorption and still births, cleft palate, hydrocephaly and hydronephrosis. The severity and frequency of several of the fetal abnormalities were compounded when lithium and ethanol were administered simultaneously. The possible mechanisms of lithium and ethanol teratogenicity and their synergistic effects have been explained on a biochemical basis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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