chapter  50
22 Pages

Ethanol

WithJames L. Schardein, Orest T. Macina

Ethanol or “alcohol” as it is better known, is used medicinally as a disinfectant, solvent, and preservative. It is present in many over-the-counter preparations in concentrations ranging from <1% up to 67% in some formulations. Alcohol is also used universally as a beverage, in which it acts as a central nervous system depressant, with intoxicating properties. Laboratory animal studies clearly demonstrate potent developmental toxicity, including teratogenicity, by all known routes of administration. The use of alcohol recreationally during pregnancy can have severe consequences in humans. The outcome of pregnancies of mothers who use alcohol is a distinct syndrome of developmental toxicity, the sum termed the “fetal alcohol syndrome”. The US Department of Health, Education and Welfare proposed that women limit their daily alcohol intake to 28.5 ml of pure ethanol. Ethanol is one of the smallest human developmental toxicants. It is hydrophilic and can participate in hydrogen bonding.