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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Jun 2019 - 5 Jul 2019

Animal Studies

2020 Jan

Dev Psychobiol



Inflammatory neonatal pain disrupts maternal behavior and subsequent fear conditioning in a rodent model.



Infants spending extended time in the neonatal intensive care unit are at greater risk of developing a variety of mental health problems later in life, possibly due to exposure to painful/stressful events. We used a rodent model of inflammatory neonatal pain to explore effects on fear conditioning, somatosensory function and maternal behavior. Hindpaw injections of 2% λ-carrageenan on postnatal days 1 and 4 produced an attenuation in conditioned freezing during the postweaning period, similar to our previous work with acute pain, but did not cause lasting impacts on contextual freezing nor somatosensory function. Additionally, we assessed maternal behavior to observe dam-pup interactions during the neonatal period. Results showed dams of litters which experienced pain spent similar amounts of time with pups as undisturbed controls. However, the specific behaviors differed per condition. Dams of pain litters exhibited less time licking/grooming, but more time nursing than controls. These results suggest changes in maternal care following pain could be a contributing factor underlying the long-term effects of neonatal trauma. Furthermore, our laboratory has previously shown acute, but not inflammatory pain, disrupted conditioned freezing; the current experiment observed the long-term effects of neonatal inflammatory pain on conditioned fear using a weak conditioning protocol.