Hormonal effects of early rearing conditions in the infant rhesus monkey



Mother-reared and nursery-reared rhesus monkeys were evaluated during the first month of life to assess the effects of early rearing on endocrine status in infancy. Plasma cortisol and growth hormone (GH) levels were measured in two conditions: (1) basal and (2) 30 min following removal from either the mother or the nursery. Nursery-reared infants had lower basal GH levels and higher cortisol levels than did mother-reared infants. Both GH and cortisol levels rose significantly following separation and reached similar levels in the mother-reared and nursery-reared infants. Mother-reared animals exhibited higher GH levels in response to a pharmacological GH-stimulation test. Thus nursery rearing of primate infants significantly affected the baseline secretion of two important endocrine systems, but did not appear to alter markedly the acute endocrine response to a psychological stressor.