Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Janace Gifford

Reader 2

Tessa Solomon-Lane

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Postpartum depression (PPD) affects up to 20% of mothers in the US and can detrimentally affect both the mother and psychosocial development of the child (Pearlstein et al, 2009). So far, research on PPD is limited and the underlying neuropathology remains unclear. Low socioeconomic status is one risk factor that increases the risk of PPD tenfold (Goyal et al, 2010). The low resource limited bedding and nesting (LBN) paradigm used for rodents has the potential to model this risk factor. LBN has not previously been studied with PPD, but observations of disrupted maternal behaviors and depressive phenotypes makes it a promising novel model to study PPD. In this study, pregnant Sprague-Dawley dams were placed in either LBN or control conditions and maternal behaviors were observed for 9 days postpartum (P). Additionally, estrogen receptor alpha (ER-⍺) expression in the medial preoptic area (MPOA) was measured due to its hypothesized role in maternal behavior and therefore potentially in PPD mechanisms. No differences were found with maternal behaviors between LBN and control dams; however, an effect of time was found for behaviors supporting progressive changes in coordination with pup growth (p<0.05). For MPOA ER-⍺ expression, a main effect of condition was found on P2 (p<0.01) but disappeared at P9 suggesting LBN dams can recover ER-⍺ expression. While the risk factor of low socioeconomic status may increase the risk of developing PPD, it alone may not predispose mothers to PPD as shown through the LBN paradigm.