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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1987 Jul;157(1):204-11.

Disposition of acute, multiple-dose ethanol in the near-term pregnant ewe.


The disposition of ethanol and its proximate metabolite, acetaldehyde, was determined in seven conscious instrumented pregnant ewes (127 to 132 days of gestation; term, 147 days) for intravenous infusion of four dosages of 0.5 gm ethanol/kg maternal body weight, administered over 5 hours to the mother. The maternal and fetal blood had ethanol concentrations that were maximal at 5 hours and were virtually identical during the 24-hour study. There was delayed transfer of ethanol into the amniotic and allantoic fluids during the dosing period, followed by higher ethanol concentrations in these fluids during the elimination phase compared with fetal blood. The ethanol elimination rate was similar for the four biologic fluids. Acetaldehyde concentrations in the four fluids were a thousandfold less than the respective ethanol concentrations. The maternal blood acetaldehyde concentration was greater than that in fetal blood. The data indicate that for a binge-type drinking episode during near-term pregnancy, there is unimpeded bidirectional placental transfer of ethanol between the mother and the fetus; the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus is a reservoir for ethanol in utero; elimination of ethanol from the maternal-fetal unit is regulated by maternal hepatic biotransformation of ethanol; and there is appreciable acetaldehyde-oxidizing capacity in the maternal liver and at extrahepatic sites.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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