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Prenatal exposure to ethanol can result in an abundance of psychological, physical and developmental impairments that can alter the behavioral and cognitive abilities of an organism and can cause long-lasting developmental conditions collectively known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). An estimated 10% of women consume alcohol during pregnancy (Tan et al. 2015). To investigate the effects of prenatal ethanol exposure on a developing embryo, we implemented a modified Drinking in the Dark (DiD) paradigm of alcohol intake to minimize maternal stress in an outbred Swiss Webster mouse strain. This is a non-invasive method of increasing blood alcohol content, allowing voluntary access to an ethanol solution during the mouse’s most active period. A previous study (Chi et al.) has revealed changes in early postnatal behaviors in mice exposed to ethanol in utero compared to unexposed controls. The present study aims to investigate whether these neurobehavioral alterations in early postnatal life, from birth until weaning at postnatal day 21 (P21), persist in adolescence, from age P21 to P35. We monitored developmental milestones following the protocol of Hill et al. in newborn mice to examine changes in neurobiological development. Using the open field, ledge, and Suok tests, we assessed motor activity, sensorimotor function, and anxiety in adolescent mice. We will use our results to elucidate early neurobehavioral markers of prenatal ethanol exposure. As most cases of mild FASD are not detected until late childhood, the identification of these markers will facilitate earlier and more effective therapeutic interventions in the treatment of FASD.
Pineda, Daniel M., "Investigating Developmental Milestones and Adult Behavior in a Mammalian Model of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)" (2016). Neuroscience Summer Fellows. Paper 4.