The effects of prenatal exposure to hypoxia on the behavior of rats during their life span

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1994 Aug;48(4):863-73. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(94)90193-7.


The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of moderate prenatal damage on adaptability during the juvenile, adult, and senile phases. Pregnant rats were exposed to a 12% normobaric hypoxia from day 1 to 17 postconception. Pregnancy was normal in both the treated animals and the controls. Erythrocytes, hemoglobin, and hematocrit did not increase in the treated pregnant animals. During the first 3 weeks, the F1 generation showed developmental deviations in physiological characteristics. Throughout subsequent ontogeny, motor performance, cognitive ability, and adaptability to physical stress were determined with a test battery of varying demands. Some of the differences (e.g., locomotor activity, learning ability) between juvenile untreated and treated rats disappeared during the adult phase. Motor and coordinative abilities, however, remained partially impaired in the old rats, especially under high demands. This study, and previous findings with alcohol (37), indicate that prenatal exposure to a noxa may result in a highly differentiated brain injury pattern. Depending on the different functions, damage may intensify age-dependent adaptive disorders or provoke impairment without influencing the course of development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Growth / physiology
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Hypoxia / psychology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Postural Balance / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology