Date of Award

Spring 1976

Document Type



Life & Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

John Christenson

Second Advisor

Ernest Bacon

Third Advisor

James Manion


Alcohol abuse is far reaching in its consequences. Bacon (15) estimates that 25000 individuals die annually from alcohol related automobile accidents. Furthermore, cirrhosis of the liver is now the seventh leading cause of death, ahead of arteriosclerosis, influenza and pneumonia. A significant number of cirrhosis cases are directly attributable to alcoholic abuse.

Alcohol in man is known to affect the endocrine system, the circulatory system, the liver, the gall bladder, the pancreas and the digestive tract (15)« Research (11) indicates that a change in liver metabolism during pregnancy allows an accelerated capacity to remove galactose from the liver.

It has also been shown that the effects of alcohol abuse are much more pronounced in females than in males (19) Differences in the levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy may influence the action of ethanol upon the liver (30). These changes are of added interest due to the widespread use of oral contraceptives. The birth control pill acts to prevent ovulation by hormonally simulating pregnancy (6). Fatty metamorphosis of the liver is the first readily observable change in the liver following acute ethanol consumption (4-, 13, 15, 22). There is no conclusive evidence that fatty liver leads to cirrhosis, but the sequential nature of fatty liver, necrosis, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis suggests that they are related. Because of all of the factors listed above I chose to center this study around fatty infiltration of the liver in neonatal rats whose mothers had been administered alcohol. My purposes were to determine whether or not administration of alcohol to mother rats causes fatty infiltration of the liver in the subsequently born pups. Lipid extractions were performed to quantify differences in lipid levels of control and experimental animals. Also the birth weights of the animals were compared to determine whether alcohol can stunt general development.