Prenatal stress exposure alters postnatal behavioral expression under conditions of novelty challenge in rhesus monkey infants

Dev Psychobiol. 1992 Nov;25(7):529-40. doi: 10.1002/dev.420250706.


This prospective study investigated whether mild maternal stress during pregnancy could alter the behavioral and affective responses in rhesus monkey infants in a complex, novel environment. Twenty-four rhesus monkey infants were tested on three occasions at 6 months of age in a novel environment. Twelve infants were derived from mothers exposed to a daily 10-min mild stressor from Day 90 to Day 145 postconception, while 12 were derived from mothers undisturbed during pregnancy. Prenatally stressed infants demonstrated more disturbance behavior, and lower levels of gross motor/exploratory behavior. Moreover, half of the prenatally stressed infants showed an abnormal response, falling asleep, while none of the control infants displayed this behavior. Males exhibited more clinging to surrogates, while females spent more time in gross motor/exploratory behaviors, with prenatally stressed males tending to spend the least time in gross motor/exploratory activity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal*
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Macaca mulatta / psychology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Peer Group
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Environment*