METHODS: Twelve gestating Wistar rats were divided equally into groups 1 and 2. On pregnancy day seven (PD7), group 2 animals were administered 200 mg/kg body weight of calabash chalk suspension, while group 1 animals served as the control and received 1 ml of distilled water, by oral gavages and for 14 days (PD7-PD20). On PD21, the dams were sacrificed, and the foetuses removed, examined for gross malformations, weighed and culled to two foetuses per mother. Their whole brains were excised, weighed and preserved using 10% buffered formalin, and routinely processed by haematoxylin and eosin, and Luxol fast blue methods.
RESULTS: The foetuses showed no morphological change, but their mean body weights was higher (p=0.0001). Histomorphological sections of the cerebral cortex showed hypertrophy and hyperplasia of cells in all the cortical layers, with less demonstrated Nissl and higher (p=0.001) cellular population compared with the control group.
CONCLUSION: Calabash chalk cause body weight increase and histomorphological changes in the cerebral cortex of foetuses.