Behavioral teratogenicity induced by maternal food restriction: maternal cannibalism and poor reflex development in offspring

Esther Lopes Ricci, Maria Martha Bernardi, Silvana Lima Górniak, Helenice Souza Spinosa


Recent studies have attributed the presence of several toxic chemicals during pregnancy to maternal malnutrition. A deficit in maternal nutritional status may be crucial for the development of teratogenicity. However, nowadays, the concept of teratogenesis is not restricted to structural abnormalities, but, also, to functional changes, such as, for instance, those observed in behavior. This study investigated the effects of maternal food restriction (FR) during pregnancy on the physical, behavioral, and reflex development of offspring. Pregnant female rats underwent feed restriction at different levels (15, 40, 55, and 70% of the daily feed intake when compared to the control group), starting on gestation day 6 (GD6) until GD17; the control group received food ad libitum. After birth, the physical and neurobehavioral development of offspring were assessed. The results showed that, except for weight reduction, the physical development of offsprings from the FR groups did not differ from that of the control group. However, the experimental groups showed deficits in neurological reflexes, particularly with regard to negative geotaxis and palmar reflex. In general activity, the offspring of the FR group 40% (E40) and E55 showed low frequencies of locomotion and rearing and long periods of immobility. The results show that maternal FR during pregnancy promotes neurological disorders in offspring, but it does not affect physical development, showing the importance of behavioral assessments.


Cannibalism; Maternal food restriction; Offspring development; Teratogenicity

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Direitos autorais 2014 Esther Lopes Ricci, Maria Martha Bernardi, Silvana Lima Górniak, Helenice Souza Spinosa

Licença Creative Commons
Esta obra está licenciada sob uma licença Creative Commons Atribuição 4.0 Internacional.

Biotemas. UFSC, Florianópolis, SC, Brasil, eISSN 2175-7925

Licença Creative Commons
Este periódico está licenciado conforme Creative Commons Atribuição 4.0 Internacional.