Núñez-Murrieta, M. A., Coria-Avila, G. A., Martínez, A. J. et al. 2023. Preterm rat survival is enhanced by gestational environmental enrichment. Behavioural Processes 205, 104820.

Throughout the last decade, the estimated global human preterm birth rate was 10.6 %, with higher rates in Asia, South America, and Africa. Preterm individuals, even in adulthood, are more likely to develop cardiorespiratory, renal, and metabolic disorders. On the other hand, when experimental animals are housed in an enriched environment during gestation, the development of the progeny in utero is accelerated, compared to standard housing conditions. By terminating gestation one and a half days before parturition, we investigated whether environmental enrichment restricted to gestation may have an impact on progeny survival. Our results demonstrate that the gestational enriched environment tripled the rat´s offspring survival, which was associated with decreased expression of anxiety-like behaviors in the pregnant mother. Sex of the offspring was not a factor in determining survival. We discuss the effect of increased secretion of various trophic factors and hormones induced by the enriched environment on progeny survival.

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