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Nutrient partitioning during pregnancy: adverse gestational outcome in overnourished adolescent dams

  • Jacqueline M. Wallace (a1)
Abstract

Appropriate nutrient partitioning between the maternal body and gravid uterus is essential for optimum fetal growth and neonatal survival, and in adult sheep nutrient partitioning during pregnancy generally favours the conceptus at the expense of the dam. However, recent studies using an overnourished adolescent sheep model demonstrate that the hierarchy of nutrient partitioning during pregnancy can be dramatically altered in young growing females. Overnourishing the adolescent dams to promote rapid maternal growth throughout pregnancy results in a major restriction in placental mass and leads to a significant decrease in birth weight relative to moderately-fed adolescents of equivalent gynaecological age. High maternal feed intakes are also associated with an increased incidence of non-infectious spontaneous abortion, a reduction in gestation length and colostrum production, and a higher incidence of neonatal mortality. The present paper examines the putative role of a variety of endocrine regulators of nutrient partitioning in this unusual model system, where the dam is overnourished while the stunted placenta restricts nutrient supply to the fetus. The central role of nutritionally-mediated alterations in placental growth and development in setting the subsequent pattern of nutrient partitioning between the maternal body, placenta and fetus is examined, and critical periods of sensitivity to alterations in maternal nutritional status are defined. Finally, the consequences of this form of inappropriate nutrient partitioning on the growth and development of the fetus and neonate are described with particular emphasis on the reproductive axis.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Dr Jacqueline M. Wallace, fax +44 (0)1224 716622, email jwra@rri.sari.ac.uk
References
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