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date: 19 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The quality of maternal care provided to offspring can have long-term consequences on the offspring’s development and behavior. This chapter reviews evidence for maternal modulation of offspring phenotype during preconceptual, prenatal and postnatal periods. In humans, primates, and rodents, previous animal model studies support the role of mother–infant interactions in serving as critical cue for infant development. This evidence comes from studies of the effects of maternal separation or deprivation and from study of natural variations in maternal care. Though the neurobiological changes associated with maternal care have been investigated in many species, the molecular substrates of these effects have primarily been explored in a rodent model and the studies implicate epigenetic mechanisms in maintaining the long-term effects of variations in mother–infant interaction.

Keywords: maternal care, maternal modulation, phenotype, mother–infant interactions, maternal separation, deprivation

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