A periodic dosing model of fetal alcohol syndrome in the pig‐tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina)

D. M. Bowden, P. S. Weathersbee, S. K. Clarren, C. E. Fahrenbruch, B. L. Goodlin, S. A. Caffery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A nonhuman primate on a periodic ethanol dosing schedule should provide a model of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) most relevant to the majority of pregnant women who are “social drinkers” and can exercise reasonable control over their ethanol intake. In this pilot study, four pregnant pig‐tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) received ethanol once a week from 40 days' gestation. Doses were 2.5 gm/kg for three moderate‐dose animals (MDAs) and 4.1 gm/kg for one high‐dose animal (HDA). Peak blood ethanol levels reached a mean of 240–256 mg/dl for the MDAs and averaged 379 mg/dl for the HDA. Peak acetaldehyde did not vary with dose. One MDA aborted after the first dose. The other three pregnancies were compared with eight to ten control pregnancies, and the infants' development over the first six months was compared with that of the control offspring. Nutritional status of the pregnant females was normal. The fetal heart rate response to maternal restraint was absent in the HDA. Gestational duration and simian Apgar scores were normal. All three infants were abnormally large, and two were also abnormally heavy, with body weight appropriate to skeletal size. Skeletal maturation, judged by ossification and tooth eruption, was not accelerated. The high‐dose infant (HDI) was scaphocephalic, with an underdeveloped cranial base and midface, and its brain was small and dysplastic; its reflex, motor, and cognitive development were retarded. One moderate‐dose infant (MDI) had some brain abnormalities; it was hyperkinetic and showed developmental retardation on several behavioral measures. The other MDI was normal. We conclude that the periodic model offers an effective means of investigating FAS in M. nemestrina. Furthermore, when nutrition is maintained, intermittent intake of ethanol by the pregnant primate does not necessarily reatard fetal growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-157
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes


  • acetaldehyde
  • behavioral teratology
  • ethanol
  • fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Macaca nemestrina
  • mental retardation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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