Neonatal behavior and infant cognitive development in rhesus macaques produced by assisted reproductive technologies.


Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) used in fertility clinics include in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), followed by embryo transfer into the biological or a surrogate mother. Over 1,000,000 liveborn offspring--an estimated 1 in 150 United States newborns--have been produced worldwide by ART since 1978. IVF appears to produce healthy children in singleton pregnancies, though concerns remain regarding preterm deliveries, multiple pregnancies, as well as the longer-term consequences of all ART procedures. Clinical studies remain difficult to interpret and subject to confounding variables, as developmental problems may be due to a parent's reproductive conditions rather than, or in addition to, an ART procedure. Also, because of expense and time commitments, the United States ART clinical population is not fully representative of society diversities. This socio-economic skewing might compensate for negative effects, masking small, or modest developmental deficits. Embryo splitting (ES), an ART procedure used only with animals, can produce genetically identical offspring. ES involves dividing four- to eight-cell embryos into separate blastomeres and implanting them into empty zona pellucida, followed by embryo transfer. Although these ART techniques have produced nonhuman primate offspring, there has been no research on behavioral safety. Here, we report the first study of behavioral development by rhesus macaques infants produced through ES, ICSI, and IVF. We assessed neonatal reflexes, self-feeding ability, recognition memory, object concept attainment, simple discrimination learning and reversal, and learning set (LS) acquisition. Although the sample sizes are small, we found no overall ART group delayed development. Surprisingly, the ES and ICSI monkeys appeared to be accelerated in attaining age milestones involving sensory-motor behaviors and a difficult Well Hiding object concept task. We conclude that macaque monkeys may provide an excellent model for the study of early human development by offspring of parents with conditions requiring ART pregnancies, as well as a model for the behavioral study of genetic-environment interactions using identical twins produced by ES.

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@article{Sackett2006NeonatalBA, title={Neonatal behavior and infant cognitive development in rhesus macaques produced by assisted reproductive technologies.}, author={Gene P. Sackett and Gerald C Ruppenthal and Laura Hewitson and Calvin R Simerly and Gerald Schatten}, journal={Developmental psychobiology}, year={2006}, volume={48 3}, pages={243-65} }