Evaluation of embryo-fetal development in rats housed in concrete or hwangto cages during pregnancy

Birth Defects Res B Dev Reprod Toxicol. 2008 Feb;83(1):32-9. doi: 10.1002/bdrb.20141.


Background: Recently, it was reported that the 4-week exposure of rats to a concrete building environment under cool temperatures (11.7-12.1 degrees C) had adverse effects on the general health parameters. This study examined the potential effects of concrete and hwangto building environments on pregnant dams and embryo-fetal development in Sprague-Dawley rats.

Methods: Groups of 10 mated females were exposed to polycarbonate (control), concrete, or hwangto cages from gestational days (GD) 0 to 20 under cool temperatures (11.9-12.5 degrees C). All the females underwent a caesarean section on GD 20, and their fetuses were examined for any morphological abnormalities.

Results: The temperatures in the cages were similar in all groups but the relative humidity in the concrete and hwangto groups were higher than in the control group. The concentration of volatile organic compounds in the hwangto group during the study period was lower than in the control group. In the concrete group, maternal effects manifested as an increase in the incidence of clinical signs, a lower body weight, and a decrease in the thymus and ovary weights. Developmental effects included increased post-implantation loss and decreased litter size. In contrast, in the hwangto group, there were no exposure-related adverse effects on the maternal and developmental parameters.

Conclusions: Overall, the exposure of pregnant rats to a concrete building environment under cool temperatures has adverse effects on the clinical signs, body weight, organ weight, and embryo-fetal development. On the other hand, exposure to a hwangto building environment does not have any adverse effects on pregnant dams or on embryo-fetal development in rats.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Animal Husbandry*
  • Animals
  • Construction Materials / toxicity*
  • Embryonic Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Housing, Animal*
  • Humidity
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure
  • Organic Chemicals / analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms


  • Air Pollutants
  • Organic Chemicals