Effects of diethylstilbestrol exposure during gestation on both maternal and offspring behavior

The study results demonstrate the risks of endocrine disruptors on both mother as well as offspring

mouse-and-pup
These 2015 study results suggest that estrogenic actions in utero are critical for both prenatal and postnatal development of reproductive organs and the brain, resulting in long-term effects on behavior. Image via Audra.

2015 Study Abstract

Endocrine disruption during gestation impairs the physical and behavioral development of offspring. However, it is unclear whether endocrine disruption also impairs maternal behavior and in turn further contributes to the developmental and behavioral dysfunction of offspring. We orally administered the synthetic non-steroidal estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) to pregnant female C57BL/6J mice from gestation day 11–17 and then investigated the maternal behavior of mothers. In addition, we examined the direct effects of in utero DES exposure and the indirect effects of aberrant maternal behavior on offspring using the cross-fostering method. In mothers, endocrine disruption during gestation decreased maternal behavior. In addition, endocrine disruption of foster mother influenced anxiety-related behavior and passive avoidance learning of pups regardless of their exposure in utero. The influence of DES exposure in utero, irrespective of exposure to the foster mother, was also shown in female offspring. These results demonstrate the risks of endocrine disruptors on both mother as well as offspring and suggest that developmental deficits may stem from both in utero toxicity and aberrant maternal care.

Study Conclusion

The results of this study indicate that endocrine disruption by DES exposure during pregnancy disrupts the adaptive behavioral changes in dams and that these behavior alterations in turn can impact pup behavior independent of DES exposure in utero. These findings underscore the risk of environmental endocrine disruptors to both the mother and fetus. Further studies on the influence of endocrine disruptors on maternal behavior induced by reproductive experience may lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying developmental impairments and facilitate interventions for reducing the risks conferred by these agents on both pregnant women and offspring.

Sources and Full Study
  • Effects of diethylstilbestrol exposure during gestation on both maternal and offspring behavior, journal.frontiersin, doi: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00079, 16 March 2015.
More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Author: DES Daughter

Activist, blogger and social media addict committed to shedding light on a global health scandal and dedicated to raise DES awareness.

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