The effects of prenatal exposure to some drugs of abuse, such as nicotine, on breathing function have been clearly established. However, the case of alcohol (ethanol), the most widely consume drug of abuse, remains unknown. Prenatal ethanol consumption in humans may lead to fetal alcohol syndrome and although the effect of chronic prenatal ethanol exposure (CPEE) on cognitive function is frequently studied, nothing is known about CPEE's effects on breathing as compared with other drugs of abuse. The role of nicotine for example, in human neonatal pathology, such as sudden infant death syndrome, is acknowledged today, whereas the full scope of CPEE's role is only recently emerging. Here, we review preclinical investigations on the effects of CPEE on breathing in different animal models, including possible mechanisms of adaptation to CPEE. These recent preclinical studies shed new light on a widely used drug of abuse and should facilitate the understanding of the danger posed by alcohol consumption during pregnancy.