To study the auditory impairment induced by prenatal administration of aminoglycosides in the offspring, the shuttle box method to measure the auditory threshold of rats (Kameyama et al., Folia pharmacol. japon. 77, 15, 1981) was employed. Four groups of pregnant rats were administered 200 mg/kg kanamycin sulfate (KM), 200 mg/kg dihydrostreptomycin sulfate (DHSM), 100 mg/kg neomycin sulfate (NM), or 1 ml/kg saline intramuscularly from the 10th to the 19th day of pregnancy. The auditory threshold of the offspring could be measured by the shuttle box method in about 90% of the live born rats at the age of 100 days. The auditory thresholds of the groups were as follows (mean±S.E.): saline group, 53.8±0.6 dB (N=36); KM group, 63.8 ±1.1 dB (N=34); DHSM group, 60.0±1.2dB (N=29); NM group, 62.4±1.2dB (N=24). Auditory thresholds of drug-treated groups were significantly higher than that of the saline group. However, no increase in the auditory threshold of the mother rat was detected after treatment with aminoglycosides. In addition, the experimental procedure of the shuttle box method is very easy, and the auditory threshold of a large number of rats could be measured in a short period. These findings suggest that this method is a very useful one for screening for auditory impairment induced by prenatal drug treatment in rat offspring.
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