The Effect of Duration of Alcohol Administration on the Deposition of Trace Elements in the Fetal Rat

  • Rena A. Mendelson
  • Agnes M. Huber


It is postulated that the effect of alcohol on trace element deposition during pregnancy is a long term one, requiring alcohol administration throughout the 21 days of gestation. Female Charles River rats (N=30) were given a semi-synthetic diet throughout pregnancy. Half the animals received alcohol (8 ml/kg) by esophageal tube, the other half were sham operated. Within each group, animals were treated for one, two or three weeks beginning with day 0. Dams and pups were sacrificed following a natural delivery. Iron (Fe), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), and magnesium (Mg) were measured in maternal and fetal tissues by atomic absorption spectometry. The results indicated an increased fetal level of Zn, Mg and Fe in all groups treated with alcohol. Increased fetal levels of Cu were found in the group treated for three weeks with alcohol. No differences were found in maternal tissue levels. These changes in fetal levels correspond to the effect of alcohol on gestation. Alcohol-treated litters were anywhere from 2 to 6 days overdue, providing a longer time period in utero for nutrient uptake.


Litter Size Zinc Deficiency Fetal Liver Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Harvard School 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rena A. Mendelson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Agnes M. Huber
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of NutritionHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Simmons CollegeBostonUSA
  3. 3.Shriver Center for Mental RetardationE.K.WalthamUSA

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