Adiposity and weight gain during pregnancy associate independently with behavior of infant rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)

Cheryl K. Walker, Catherine A Vandevoort, Chin Shang Li, Charles L. Chaffin, John P. Capitanio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Growing evidence identifies maternal adiposity as a potentially modifiable risk factor for adverse neurodevelopment. This retrospective cohort analysis examined whether maternal prepregnancy adiposity and gestational weight gain were associated with behavioral outcomes in 173 rhesus macaque infants at the California National Primate Research Center. Dams conceived indoors, had uncomplicated pregnancies, delivered vaginally, and reared infants indoors. Infants underwent standardized biobehavioral analysis at 90–120 days of age from 3/2001–5/2015. Offspring of mothers with greater baseline adiposity or gestational weight gain exhibited a pattern of poor adaptability characterized by greater emotionality as the assessments proceeded, blunted affective response to a human intruder challenge, and reduced interest in novel stimuli which is associated with poorer social functioning later in life. They also had lower cortisol levels following dexamethasone suppression, perhaps a response to cortisol excess during gestation. These results amplify growing public health concerns implicating maternal adiposity in impaired fetal neurobehavioral programming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-638
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • fetal programming
  • gestation
  • gestational weight gain
  • neurodevelopment
  • nonhuman primate
  • obesity
  • pregnancy
  • rhesus monkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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