Pup mortality is a considerable problem in laboratory mouse breeding and the view that parity influence survival of newborn mice is widespread. Some evidence suggests that maternal behaviour is related to offspring mortality in mice. Parental experience is a factor that can improve maternal behaviour and offspring survival in some mammals. However, few papers report a relationship between parity and pup survival in mice. We investigated the influence of strain and parity on loss of entire litters of C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice using data from a breeding colony. In total, 344 C57BL/6 and 146 BALB/c litters were included. We found a considerable mortality rate for both strains: 32% of C57BL/6 litters and 20% for BALB/c litters were lost. There was a significant difference in survival of the first litter between strains, with 3.6 times higher odds of mortality in C57BL/6 mice (p = 0.0028). Parity or previous parental experience of litter loss did, however, not affect litter loss. The scientific literature does not provide a clear picture of perinatal mortality in laboratory mice. Very few studies report perinatal mortality, and only a handful of papers exist where mortality was systematically studied; this area is thus poorly understood. If perinatal mortality in mice is not recognized and investigated, but instead considered normal when breeding mice, a serious welfare problem might be overlooked.
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