Maternal Microbes: The Effects of Probiotic Treatment on Maternal Care Behaviour, Inflammation and Offspring Stress Outcomes
O'Leary, Mary Elizabeth
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Active maternal care is vital in offspring stress programming, yet the behaviour of a mother towards her offspring can also be influenced by her external environment. It is essential to understand what impacts maternal care, as poor maternal care can disrupt offspring development, which can affect later health outcomes. Probiotics have the potential to alter the availability of hormones, (e.g., oxytocin and estrogen), which initiate and maintain maternal care behaviour. We investigated the effects of a probiotic treatment, Lacidofil®, on maternal care, inflammation and offspring stress-related outcomes. Overall, we found that probiotic-treated mothers performed increased amounts of active nursing and licking/grooming, compared to their placebo-treated counterparts. Offspring from probiotic mothers weighed significantly more than offspring from placebo-treated mothers at weaning. We observed a few trending differences in offspring stress-related outcomes. These results contribute to our understanding of the external factors that can influence maternal behaviours and ultimately affect offspring outcomes.