Prenatal Behavior of the C57BL/6J Mouse: A Promising Model for Human Fetal Movement during Early to Mid-Gestation

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The study of fetal neurobehavioral development in genetically altered mice promises a significant advance in our understanding of the prenatal origins of developmental disabilities in humans. Despite their importance, little is known about fetal neurobehavioral development in mice. In this study, we observed prenatal behavioral patterns of the C57BL/6J mouse, a common background strain for genetically altered mice, and report their similarity to those observed in the early to mid-gestation human fetus. Fetal offspring from pregnant C57BL/6J dams were observed on the day before birth (E18 of a 19-day gestation). Scoring and analysis of fetal movement included Prechtl's Method for Qualitative Assessment, Interlimb Movement Synchrony, a measure of the temporal relationship between movements of limb pairs, and Behavioral State, quantified through detailed analysis of high and low amplitude limb movements. With the exception of fetal breathing movements, all categories and patterns of behavior typically reported in the early to mid-gestation human fetus were observed in the C57BL/6J mouse fetus. Our results suggest that behavioral analysis of fetal C57BL/6J mice may yield important new insights into early to mid-gestation human behavioral development.



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