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Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Effect of Gestational Ethanol Exposure on Voluntary Ethanol Intake in Early Postnatal and Adult Rats
Behavioral Neuroscience 2007, Vol. 121, No. 6, 1306–1315

Clinical and epidemiological studies provide strong data for a relationship between prenatal ethanol exposure and the risk for abuse in adolescent and young adult humans. However, drug-acceptance results in response to fetal exposure have differed by study, age at evaluation, and experimental animal.

In the present study, the authors tested whether voluntary ethanol intake was enhanced in both the infantile and adult rat (15 and 90 days of age, respectively), as a consequence of chronic fetal drug experience.

Experimental rats were exposed in utero by administering ethanol to a pregnant dam in a liquid diet during gestational Days 6–20. Compared with those for isocaloric pair-fed and ad lib chow control animals, the results for experimental animals demonstrated that fetal exposure significantly increased infantile affinity for ethanol ingestion without affecting intake patterns of an alternative fluid (water).

Heightened affinity for ethanol was absent in adulthood. Moreover, the results argue against malnutrition as a principal factor underlying the infantile phenomenon. These data add to a growing literature indicative of heightened early postnatal acceptance patterns resulting from maternal use or abuse of ethanol during pregnancy.

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