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Vaginal microbes in mice transfer stress to their pups

Transmitted signals alter the way offspring develop

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2:56pm, July 9, 2018
mice

ALL IN THE FAMILY  A mouse mother’s vaginal microbes carry stress signals to her young, a new study suggests.   

Mouse mothers can transmit stress signals to offspring, changing the way the pups’ bodies and brains develop. Some of these stress messages get delivered during birth, scientists suggest July 9 in Nature Neuroscience.

Researchers suspected that vaginal microbes from stressed-out moms could affect male pups in ways that leave them vulnerable to stress later in life (SN: 12/14/2013, p. 13). But earlier studies hadn’t demonstrated whether those microbes, picked up during birth, actually caused some of the changes seen in offspring, or if other aspects of life in utero were to blame.

Tracy Bale of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and colleagues subjected pregnant mice to stressful trials that included smelling the scent of a fox for an hour, listening to unusual sounds

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