Abstract # 147:

Scheduled for Friday, August 19, 2005 05:00 PM-05:15 PM: Session 13 (Parliament Room) Oral Presentation


M. Bardi and M. A. Huffman
Department of Comparative Medicine, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, P.O. Box 760549, San Antonio, TX 78245-0549, USA
     The simultaneous effects of individual differences in maternal care and maternal peripartum stress on infant development have been sparsely reported in nonhuman primates. In this work we report on how changes in peripartum maternal cortisol levels and maternal behavior correlate with infant behavioral development in rhesus and Japanese macaques. We tested the hypothesis that peripartum maternal stress was associated with infant behavioral characteristics. We also expected to be able to discern different developmental trajectories in these two macaque groups. A sample of mother-infant pairs (Japanese macaques, n = 14; rhesus macaques, n = 10) was observed during the first three months of the infant’s life. Follow-up observations (at 5, 7 and 9 months of age) were collected for the infants. Maternal cortisol levels were measured during the peripartum period. Multiple regression analysis revealed that differences in maternal behavior, such as time spent in contact with the infant, responsiveness to distress calls from the infant, and frequency of infant rejection episodes, were associated with infant behavior throughout the developmental phase (R = 0.67; F2, 21 = 8.3; P < 0.01). We also found that maternal stress during the peripartum period constitutes a significant component in the regulation of mother-infant interactions and plays a critical role in the way infants will later interact with the physical and social environment (R = 0.84; F4, 19 = 8.6; P < 0.01). Finally, maternal behavior and maternal stress played unique roles in different components of infant behavioral development.