Food deprivation after weaning often has greater effects on the reproductive success of females than of males. However, if animals are deprived prenatally (that is, through food deprivation of the mother during gestation), the reproductive success of males may be more adversely affected than that of females because of a disruption in the organizational effects of testosterone in neonatal male mice. The hypotheses that daughters of female mice deprived of food during gestation would have lower reproductive success than control daughters, but that the impact of maternal food deprivation would be lower for daughters than it would be for sons, was tested. There was no difference in the proportion of daughters of food-deprived and control mothers that produced one or two litters. However, the mean number of pups weaned in the second litters by daughters of control females (5.9 +/- 0.57 SEM) was greater than the number of pups weaned by daughters of food-deprived females (4.5 +/- 0.65 SEM). There were no differences in the mean birth or weaning body weights of offspring. Therefore, maternal food deprivation in mice may have a small but significant effect on the reproductive success of daughters. However, studies of sons born to females that were subjected to the same food deprivation protocol indicate that maternal food deprivation may have a much greater effect on the reproduction of sons than on that of daughters.
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