• reproductive toxicology;
  • neuroteratology;
  • behavior;
  • morning glory;
  • goats


Ipomoea carnea is a toxic plant that grows in tropical areas, and is readily consumed by grazing goats. The plant contains the alkaloids swainsonine and calystegines, which inhibit cellular enzymes and cause systematic cell death. This study evaluated the behavioral effects on dams and kids of prenatal ingestion of this plant. Freshly harvested leaves of I. carnea (10 g/kg body weight) were fed daily to nine pregnant goats from the fifth to the 16th week of gestation; five pregnant goats were controls. Dam and kid behavior were evaluated during 2-hr postpartum. Further evaluation of the offspring was performed using various tests after birth: (1) reaching and discriminating their dam from an alien doe (two tests at 12-hr postpartum), and (2) navigating a progressive maze (2, 4, and 6 days postpartum). Postnatal (n = 2) and fetal (n = 2) mortality were observed in the treated group. Intoxicated kids had difficulty in standing at birth, and only one was able to suckle within 2 hr of birth. Treated kids were slower than controls to arrive at their dam in the discrimination test; treated kids often (seven of nine completed tests) incorrectly chose the alien dam (controls: 0/10 tests). During some runs on days 2, 4, and 6 postpartum, treated kids were slower to leave the starting point of the maze, and were slower to arrive at the dam on all test days. This study suggests that the offspring of pregnant goats given I. carnea during gestation have significant behavioral alterations and developmental delays. Birth Defects Res (Part B) 92:131–138, 2011.  © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.