The nature and extent of care received by an infant can affect social, emotional and cognitive development, features that endure into adulthood.
Here we employed the monogamous, California mouse (Peromyscus californicus), a species, like the human, where both parents invest in offspring care, to determine whether early exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC: bisphenol A, BPA; ethinyl estradiol, EE) of one or both parents altered their behaviors towards their pups.
Disruption of Parenting Behaviors in California Mice, a Monogamous Rodent Species, by Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, PLOS one, June 3, 2015.
Image Time spent in the nest with the pups, PLOS one.
Females exposed to either compound spent less time nursing, grooming and being associated with their pups than controls, although there was little consequence on their weight gain.
Care of pups by males was less affected by exposure to BPA and EE, but control, non-exposed females appeared able to “sense” a male partner previously exposed to either compound and, as a consequence, reduced their own parental investment in offspring from such pairings.
The data emphasize the potential vulnerability of pups born to parents that had been exposed during their own early development to EDC, and that effects on the male, although subtle, also have consequences on overall parental care due to lack of full acceptance of the male by the female partner.