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ABSTRACT: Polychlorinated biphenyls are environmental contaminants known to affect neurobehavioral development in many laboratory studies using different animal models. Because of their bioaccumulation and long half-life they are a serious concern for our own species. The dioxin-like PCB congener 3,4,3',4'-tetrachlorobiphenyl (PCB 77) has estrogenic and anti-estrogenic properties, and has been shown to affect brain chemistry and behavior of developing rats when administered during gestation. Since many developmental outcomes in mammals depend upon the type of maternal care provided by the dams, we investigated the effects of two doses of PCB 77 (2 and 4 mg/kg administered during gestational days 6-18) on the maternal behavior of the treated dams. Both doses of PCB 77 reduced the amount of nursing time in which the dams displayed the high-crouch posture over postnatal days 1-6. In addition, the high dose increased the amount of maternal licking and grooming of the litters and the amount of time the dams spent on the nest. The high dose also increased pup mortality, and both doses reduced the weight gain of the litters during the first 6 days of life. These results document effects of PCB 77 on maternal behavior and serve to raise questions about the importance of maternal contributions to the developmental effects of this and similar contaminants.
Physiology & Behavior 02/2005; 84(1):81-6. DOI:10.1016/j.physbeh.2004.10.022 · 2.98 Impact Factor