The effects of morphine exposure in utero on play behavior and social behavior were investigated in a longitudinal study. Wistar rat dams were SC injected daily with saline (control) or 10 mg/kg morphine from day 8 to day 21 of gestation. Play behavior of the offspring was measured at 3 and 4 weeks of age and social behavior at 3 months of age. Pinning, a measure for play behavior and social grooming of the morphine-treated offspring were significantly elevated compared to saline controls, especially on day 21. The onset-latency of pinning behavior was not changed. Furthermore, prenatal morphine treatment resulted in more social approach and less social avoidance behavior in adulthood, whereas changes in general locomotor activity were not observed. The results are discussed in relation to the effects of in utero exposure of morphine on the development of incentive aspects of play and social behavior.
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