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. 1992 Nov;121(5 Pt 1):789-96.
doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(05)81917-1.

Cognitive and Behavioral Deficits in Nonhuman Primates Associated With Very Early Embryonic Binge Exposures to Ethanol

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Cognitive and Behavioral Deficits in Nonhuman Primates Associated With Very Early Embryonic Binge Exposures to Ethanol

S K Clarren et al. J Pediatr. .

Abstract

This study was undertaken to evaluate teratogenesis associated with early weekly ethanol exposure followed by later gestational abstinence. Ethanol, 1.8 gm/kg, was orally administered weekly to gravid nonhuman primates (Macaca nemestrina) for the first 3, 6, or the entire 24 weeks of pregnancy. Control animals received weekly sucrose solution as did the 3- and 6-week cohort animals in subsequent weeks. Thirty-five viable infants were assessed for growth, malformations, and behavioral and cognitive dysfunction. Animals in the 6-week and 24-week cohorts were uniformly abnormal in behavior and inconsistently abnormal in physical development relative to the control animals. Animals in the 3-week cohort were equivocally normal. These results demonstrate ethanol's capacity to produce behavioral teratogenesis (brain dysfunction) in isolation from physical anomalies in the rest of the body. The results strongly suggest that binge drinking in the first 6 to 8 weeks of pregnancy (a period when women may not know that they are pregnant), followed by later gestational abstinence, is as dangerous to the fetus as exposure throughout gestation.

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