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Effect of maternal alcohol consumption upon plasma levels of folate, zinc, magnesium, glucose, and amino acids in rat dams and their fetuses Marquis, Sandra Maureen


The current study was conducted to determine the effect of maternal alcohol consumption upon plasma amino acids, glucose, folic acid, zinc and magnesium levels in rat dams and their fetuses. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into three dietary treatment groups. Group 1 (Alcohol) was given a stock diet plus 10% (v/v) ethanol in drinking water. After one week, the concentration of ethanol was increased to 20% (v/v). Group 2 (Pair-fed) was given a stock diet plus an amount of cornstarch isocalorically equivalent to the ethanol consumed by Group 1. Group 3 (Control) was given the stock diet ad libitum. Pair-fed and control rats received water ad libitum. The three dietary groups were maintained on their respective regimens for 4 weeks, after which mating of each animal to male Sprague-Dawley rats was begun. The appearance of sperm in the vaginal washings was taken as day 1 of pregnancy. At that time, the alcohol group was changed to 30% (v/v) ethanol. Throughout the experiment daily food consumption by alcohol-treated and pair-fed animals was recorded. Weekly body weights of all animals were also recorded. On day 21 of gestation fetuses and placentae were removed and weighed. Blood samples were collected by cardiac puncture from all dams and fetuses. Alcohol-treated fetuses were significantly lighter in body weight than pair-fed or control fetuses. Maternal weight gain prior to pregnancy was not correlated with fetal body weight, while maternal weight gain throughout pregnancy was positively correlated with, fetal weight. Maternal alcohol consumption had no significant effect upon maternal or fetal plasma levels of folic acid, zinc, and most amino acids. Alcohol consumption also had no effect upon maternal plasma glucose and albumin concentrations. Fetal plasma lactic acid was not significantly affected by maternal alcohol consumption. . However, plasma magnesium levels were significantly elevated in alcohol-treated dams. Also, plasma proline levels were significantly reduced and plasma alpha-amino-n-butyric acid levels elevated in alcohol-treated dams. Maternal plasma alpha-amino-n-butyric acid and proline levels correlated with fetal body weight. In alcohol-treated fetuses, plasma glucose levels were significantly lower than those in pair-fed and control groups. Fetal plasma glucose levels were positively correlated with fetal body weight. Plasma aspartic acid levels were also significantly lower in alcohol-treated fetuses compared to the other two groups. Fetal plasma lysine and alpha-amino-n-butyric acid levels correlated positively with fetal body weight. No significant differences were found in intestinal conjugase activity among the three maternal treatment groups, indicating that alcohol did not inhibit the hydrolyis of folate polyglutamates. Plasma osmolality was significantly elevated in alcohol-treated dams. However, the effect of moderate maternal dehydration upon fetal growth is unknown. It is concluded that maternal alcohol consumption produces distinct changes in some maternal and fetal plasma nutrient concentrations (ie. glucose, zinc, magnesium and some amino acids). The significance of these results is unknown. However, fetal hypoglycemia, produced by chronic maternal alcohol consumption, may contribute to the growth retardation seen in the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

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