I am writing to express my extreme dismay over extensive funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Development that is going to study the effects of malnutrition on pregnant baboons. In the past five years, the NICHD has spent more than $5.6 million to deprive pregnant baboons of an adequate diet and then place their offspring into lifelong research protocols. These baboon studies, which were awarded $1.78 million for 2017 alone, have been continuing for more than a decade.
Animal studies are notoriously problematic for failing to translate to human biology. In addition to interspecies variability, the baboon studies are confounded by significant stresses placed on the animals when they are captured, isolated, sedated and given general anesthesia and intubation to undergo cardiac MRIs and simple blood pressure measurements. Further, the baboons have metal identification tags implanted in their backs, which interferes with MRI readings.
The current grant, under Peter Nathanielsz, has been going on since 1993, studying rats, sheep, monkeys and now baboons. It’s time for NICHD to end its decades long funding for experiments that deprive pregnant animals of nutrition to study their offspring.