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J Gerontol. 1993 Jul;48(4):B156-67.

The effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on the behavior of rats during their life span.

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Institute for Neuropsychopharmacology, Free University of Berlin.


Ontogenesis is closely related to the ability to adapt to endogenous and exogenous stimuli. However, this precondition for viability does not remain stable; it changes in correlation to the phases of life. In this long-term study with rats, the extent to which moderate prenatal damage influences the adaptability in the juvenile, adult and senile phases was examined. For this purpose rat fetuses were exposed to alcohol (6 g/kg bw/day) by treating the pregnant rats via drinking water from gestation days 7 to 17. In the juvenile phase (0-3 months), no substantial differences in comparison to controls were recorded. Exceptions were a delayed development in the negative geotaxis (posture reflex) and a transiently higher exploratory activity in the open field test. In the adult phase (> 3-27 months), reduced performance was observed in basic functions such as body temperature regulation. Additionally, diminished performance was seen in response to high demands in motor-coordination (rotorod). During the senile phase (> 27 months), impairment of nearly all tested functions occurred earlier and was more pronounced.

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