Effects of neonatal cocaine exposure on two measures of balance and coordination

Susan Barron, Joan Irvine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This study examined the effects of third trimester cocaine exposure on motor coordination and balance using a rodent model. The subjects were Sprague-Dawley rats that had been artificially reared (AR) and fed through gastrostomy tubes from postnatal days (PND 4-11). The AR groups included two groups given either 20 mg/kg/day or 60 mg/kg/day cocaine hydrochloride and a control group. A suckled control group raised by its natural dam was also included to control for artificial rearing. In Experiment 1, neonatal exposure to the high dose of cocaine resulted in impaired performance on parallel rods at 19-21 days of age. Exposure to the lower dose of cocaine impaired parallel rod performance on 20 and 21 days of age. In Experiment 2, walking gait was examined in 38-48-day-old subjects. Neonatal cocaine exposure was associated with a narrower stance width, however, there were no differences across neonatal treatment groups on step angle or stride length. These data suggest that third trimester cocaine exposure results in balance and coordination impairments. These findings support preliminary data suggesting motor impairments in infants with prenatal cocaine histories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-94
Number of pages6
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1994

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported, in part, by NIDA DA06049 to S.B. We thank Marty Bukofski and Kristy Spalmacin for their assistance in data collection and analysis. We would also like to acknowledge Pur-ina Protein Technologies for their kind donation of Purina protein and Becton Dickinson for their assistance with PE-10 tubing.


  • Motor development
  • Prenatal cocaine effects
  • Third trimester effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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