Effects of prenatal ethanol exposure and early experience on home-cage and open-field activity in mice

Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1996 Jan-Feb;18(1):59-65. doi: 10.1016/0892-0362(95)02025-x.


-C57BL/6 mice were intubated from gestational day 14-18 twice daily with 1.58 g/kg ethanol, 4.2 g/kg sucrose, or remained untreated. Offspring of ethanol treated or lab chow control groups were raised either by group-housed dams and weaned on postnatal day (PND) 28 or by individually housed dams and weaned on PND 21. Offspring of the sucrose control group were raised by individually housed dams and weaned on PND 21. Groups did not differ in pup weight or litter size. Offspring were assessed for home-cage activity (PND 36-38) and open-field behavior (PND 40-42). Mice prenatally exposed to ethanol showed increased activity in their home cages, whereas open-field behavior was generally not different from that of control groups. Conversely, different preweaning rearing conditions had affected open-field behavior, but not home-cage activity. In conclusion, home-cage behavior was a sensitive paradigm for detecting hyperactivity subsequent to a relatively low dose of prenatal ethanol in mice, and communal nesting/late weaning vs. individual nesting/ standard weaning may be a useful preweaning environmental manipulation to study possible modifications of prenatal neurobehavioral effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / psychology*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Birth Weight / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / blood
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / toxicity*
  • Environment
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Ethanol / toxicity*
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol