Steyn, Clare, Hawkins, Paul, Saito, Tsukuru, Noakes, David E., Kingdom, John C. and Hanson, Mark A.
Undernutrition during the first half of gestation increases the predominance of fetal tissue in late-gestation ovine placentomes
European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 98, (2), . (doi:10.1016/S0301-2115(01)00321-9).
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To investigate, in sheep, the effects of maternal undernutrition during the first half of pregnancy on placental growth and development and fetal growth.
Six ewes (R) were subjected to a 15% reduction in nutrient intake for the first 70 days of gestation and thereafter received the recommended daily intake. Another group of six ewes (C) received the recommended daily intake throughout pregnancy. At 130 days gestation the ewes were killed and morphological and morphometrical measurements were carried out on the placenta and fetus.
Results: Undernutrition resulted in a significant alteration in placental morphology, which was seen as increased growth of the fetal side of the placenta in R animals. However, fetal size in late gestation was not affected by the undernutrition, suggesting that placental adaptation was successful in maintaining fetal growth.
Conclusion: Placental adaptations, including changes in gross morphology, may preserve fetal growth if maternal undernutrition is not severe. The mechanisms remain to be elucidated.
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