Acute alcohol exposure markedly influences male fertility and fetal outcome in the male rat

Theodore J. Cicero, Bruce Nock, Lynn O'Connor, Michael L. Adams, Bryan N. Sewing, Edward R. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Although it is recognized that drugs ingested by pregnant females produce marked cognitive and physiological deficits in their offspring, the possibility that paternal exposure to drugs prior to mating may have adverse effects on fertility and fetal outcome has not received much attention. The purpose of the present studies was to examine whether a single, acute exposure to alcohol influences the subsequent ability of adult male rats to mate and produce healthy and viable litters. Our results showed that a relatively large dose of alcohol 24 hours prior to breeding had little effect on the mating behavior of male rats, but there were markedly fewer pregnancies in females mated with alcohol-exposed male rats than in controls. Of equal importance, we found that, even when conception occurred and live births were produced, there were striking differences in fetal outcome. Alcohol-treated males sired many fewer pups than control males and there was a markedly enhanced mortality rate in their offspring. Collectively, these data suggest that acute paternal alcohol administration 24 hours prior to breeding does not affect mating behavior, but results in a greatly diminished fertility rate and fewer and less viable offspring. These studies suggest that paternal alcohol use may be as important as maternal alcohol abuse as a negative variable in pregnancy and fetal outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-910
Number of pages10
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1994


  • alcohol
  • fertility
  • fetal outcome
  • paternal alcohol


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