Mice were fasted during pregnancy or early lactation and the effects on mammary development and milk yield studied on d 13 and d 18 of pregnancy and on d 7 of lactation. Fasting during pregnancy reduced body weight and mammary weight on d 13 of pregnancy but not on d 18. Mammary concentrations and total contents of DNA and RNA ([DNA], [RNA], DNAt, RNAt) were increased or unchanged on d 13 but significantly decreased on d 18. Fasting had no effect on fetal number or weight at either stage of pregnancy. Fasting on d 1 of lactation reduced mammary weight, DNAt and RNAt (but not [DNA] or [RNA]) and the incorporation of tritiated thymidine into DNA on d 2 of lactation. Mammary gland weight and composition on d 7 of lactation were not significantly affected by fasting for 24 h on d 1 of lactation or for 40 h on d 11–13 of pregnancy, except that DNAt was decreased slightly by the latter treatment.
Milk yield (litter weight gain) was depressed markedly during fasting on d 1 of lactation, but thereafter recovered so that it was the same as controls between d 3 and 13 of lactation; after d 13 it fell once more. A 40 h fast on d 11–13 of pregnancy had no effect on milk yield. Thus, although normal mammary development was inhibited by starvation, the gland was subsequently able to compensate so that milk yield was not reduced.