Alcohol-induced brain growth restrictions (microencephaly) were not affected by concurrent exposure to cocaine during the brain growth spurt. Academic Article uri icon


  • The prevalence of concomitant use of alcohol and cocaine among drug abusers has raised concern about the possible increased risk of fetal damage. The aim of this study was to assess the interactive effects of alcohol and cocaine on lethality, somatic growth, and brain growth using an animal model system. Sprague-Dawley rat pups were used as subjects. They were randomly assigned to 1 of the 9 artificially reared groups which varied with respect to the combination treatments of cocaine (0, 40, or 60 mg/kg) and alcohol (0, 3.3, or 4.5 g/kg). All artificially reared pups were given daily cocaine and alcohol treatments during a major part of the brain growth spurt period (postnatal days 4-9). An additional group of suckled control animals raised by their natural dams was included to control for artificial rearing. The results are summarized as follows: 1) Drug-induced lethality was higher in cocaine-treated groups when compared with non-cocaine-treated groups, and the concurrent administration of high doses of alcohol and cocaine significantly increased the mortality rate. 2) Somatic growth, in terms of body weight, was not affected by alcohol, cocaine, or the combination of both drugs using the artificial rearing technique. 3) Alcohol exposure during this brain growth spurt period significantly reduced whole brain weight, as well as forebrain, cerebellum, and brain stem weights. 4) In contrast to alcohol, cocaine failed to exert a detrimental effect on brain weight measures during this early postnatal period.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

published proceedings

  • Teratology

author list (cited authors)

  • Chen, W. J., Andersen, K. H., & West, J. R

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Chen, WJ||Andersen, KH||West, JR

publication date

  • September 1994