Prenatal alcohol exposure: comparability of effects in humans and animal models

Neurotoxicol Teratol. May-Jun 1990;12(3):231-7. doi: 10.1016/0892-0362(90)90094-s.


Much is known about the potential consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure through data developed in animals and man. However, little attempt has been made to compare the human and animal literature with respect to qualitative and quantitative similarities and differences. To this end, a comparison was made between the effects reported in humans following moderate levels of alcohol exposure and the neurobehavioral effects detected using animal models. A good deal of congruence was found with respect to qualitative endpoints. General functional categories, such as deficits in learning, inhibition, attention, regulatory behaviors, and motor performance were reported to be affected in both animals and children. Quantitatively, although the dose required to produce an effect differs across species, the resultant circulating blood alcohol levels are quite similar. In addition, while compelling data are limited, the magnitude of the observed effects are generally dose-related for both humans and animals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Species Specificity