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Maternal behavior in mammals is the result of a complex interaction between the lactating dam and her developing offspring. Slight perturbations of any of the components of the mother-infant interaction may result in alterations of the behavior of the mother and/or of the offspring. We studied the effects of exposure of female CD-1 mice to the estrogenic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) during fetal life and/or in adulthood during the last part of pregnancy on subsequent maternal behavior. Pregnant females were fed daily doses of corn oil (controls) or 10 microg/kg body weight BPA during gestation days 14-18. As adults, the prenatally treated female offspring were time-mated and again fed either corn oil (controls) or the same doses of BPA on gestation days 14-18, resulting in four treatment groups: controls, prenatal BPA exposure, adult BPA exposure, and both prenatal and adult BPA exposure. Maternal behavior was then observed on postnatal days 2-15 and reflex responses were examined in the offspring. Dams exposed to BPA either as fetuses or in adulthood spent less time nursing their pups and more time out of the nest compared with the control group. Females exposed to BPA both as fetuses and in adulthood did not significantly differ from controls. No alterations in postnatal reflex development were observed in the offspring of the females exposed to BPA. The changes seen in maternal behavior may be the result of a direct effect of BPA on the neuroendocrine substrates underlying the initiation of maternal behavior.