Cheryl Rosenfeld, Ph.D., D.V.M.
University of Missouri, Columbia
NIHES Grant: R21ES023150
An NIEHS grantee and colleagues have shown that exposure to the endocrine disrupters bisphenol A (BPA) and ethinyl estradiol can negatively affect parenting behavior in mice. This is one of the first studies to show that endocrine disruptors can influence both maternal and paternal care.
The researchers used the California mouse species, a monogamous species in which both parents care for offspring. They exposed female and male California mice in the womb and during suckling by feeding their mothers a diet containing BPA or ethinyl estradiol. Control mice received a diet free of endocrine disruptors. Male and female offspring were then randomly paired with breeding partners that were either controls or developmentally exposed to the same endocrine disruptor.
The experiments showed that female California mice developmentally exposed to either BPA or ethinyl estradiol spent less time suckling their pups. Both parents were absent from the nest more often if they were exposed to the endocrine disruptors. Even females that were not exposed to endocrine disruptors suckled their pups less and spent more time outside the nest if they were paired with a male that was exposed. According to the researchers, this is one of the first reports demonstrating that early exposure of the male partner to an endocrine disruptor can disturb normal patterns of care by both partners.
Citation: Johnson SA, Javurek AB, Painter MS, Peritore MP, Ellersieck MR, Roberts RM, Rosenfeld CS. 2015. Disruption of parenting behaviors in California mice, a monogamous rodent species, by endocrine disrupting chemicals. PLoS One 10(6):e0126284.