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Am J Primatol. 2009 Jun;71(6):510-22. doi: 10.1002/ajp.20681.

Successful behavioral strategy to unite mother and infant rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) after cesarean delivery.

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Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, Department of Health and Human Services, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Poolesville, Maryland 20837, USA.


Developmental studies of pre- to postnatal continuities in rhesus monkeys sometimes require infants be reared with their mothers. However, complications during pregnancy or experimental designs may require cesarean delivery. Owing to lack of published information on this subject, strategies are needed to introduce mothers to their infants following cesarean delivery. Using positive and negative reinforcement techniques we attempted to unite six infant rhesus macaques, Macaca mulatta, to their mothers following c-sections. For our seventh subject, we attempted to cross-foster an infant onto an unrelated female after she had undergone a cesarean surgery for a late-term spontaneous abortion. The mothers varied in age, parity, previous postnatal mothering experience with infants, housing earlier to delivery, and housing subsequent to introduction. Although there were large individual differences among the mother-infant pairs, all seven introductions were successful. The mothers learned to accept and care for their infants from the continuous application of operant conditioning techniques. These data suggest that mother-rearing following cesarean section is a realistic possibility whether required for clinical reasons or for proper experimental control. Furthermore, the ability to successfully mother-rear infants produced from cesarean delivery lessens the impact this potential confound of not being reared by their mothers exerts on many types of developmental studies.

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