Author(s): Fewell JE, Smith FG
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Abstract Failure to autoresuscitate by hypoxic gasping during prolonged sleep apnea has been suggested to play a role in sudden infant death. Furthermore, maternal smoking has been repeatedly shown to be a risk factor for sudden infant death. The present experiments were carried out on newborn rat pups to investigate the influence of perinatal exposure to nicotine (the primary pharmacological and addictive agent in tobacco) on their time to last gasp during a single hypoxic exposure and on their ability to autoresuscitate during repeated exposure to hypoxia. Pregnant rats received either nicotine (6 mg. kg-1. 24 h-1) or vehicle continuously from day 6 of gestation to days 5 or 6 postpartum via an osmotic minipump. On days 5 or 6 postpartum, pups were exposed either to a single period of hypoxia (97\% N2-3\% CO2) and their time to last gasp was determined, or they were exposed repeatedly to hypoxia and their ability to autoresuscitate from primary apnea was determined. Perinatal exposure to nicotine did not alter the time to last gasp, but it did impair the ability of pups to autoresuscitate from primary apnea. After vehicle, the pups were able to autoresuscitate from 18 +/- 1 (SD) periods of hypoxia, whereas, after nicotine, the pups were able to autoresuscitate from only 12 +/- 2 periods (P < 0.001) of hypoxia. Thus our data provide evidence that perinatal exposure to nicotine impairs the ability of newborn rats to autoresuscitate from primary apnea during repeated exposure to hypoxia, such as may occur during episodes of prolonged sleep apnea.
This article was published in J Appl Physiol (1985)
and referenced in Biological Systems: Open Access