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Fetal programming in sheep: effects on pre- and postnatal development in lambs.

  • Sartori, Everton D1
  • Sessim, Amir G1
  • Brutti, Danielle D1
  • Lopes, Jusecléia F1
  • McManus, Concepta M2
  • Barcellos, Júlio O J1
  • 1 Department of Animal Science, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. , (Brazil)
  • 2 University of Brasilia, Darcy Ribeiro University Campus, Brasília, Distrito Federal, Brazil. , (Brazil)
Published Article
Journal of animal science
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1093/jas/skaa294
PMID: 32894763


This systematic review and meta-analysis aim to summarize the effects of maternal undernutrition or overnutrition during pregnancy on fetal weight and morphometric measurements during pregnancy, at birth, and postnatal period in sheep. After completing the search, selection, and data extraction steps, the measure of effect was generated by the individual comparison of each indicator with the average of the control and treated group (undernutrition or overnutrition) using the DerSimonian and Laird method for random effects. Subgroup analyses were also performed for lambing order, litter size, sex, as well as level, timing, and duration of the intervention. Fetal weight during the first third of pregnancy was not affected by maternal undernutrition or overnutrition. On the other hand, undernutrition in the second and last third of gestation reduces the weight of the lamb both during pregnancy, at birth, and during the postnatal period, requiring at least 120 postnatal days to achieve the same weight as its contemporaries in the control treatment. However, this reduction in weight is not accompanied by reductions in morphometric measurements, demonstrating that the animals were lighter, but of equal size. In overnutrition, there is an increase in fetal weight in the second third of gestation. However, in the last third of the gestational period, there are no differences in fetal weight for the multiparous subgroup, but it was reduced in primiparous ewes. There are no effects of overnutrition on birth weight; however, this result is highly heterogeneous. Thus, maternal nutrition of ewe during pregnancy has effects on fetal and postnatal weight, but not on size. Furthermore, the effects of undernutrition are more homogeneous while overnutrition showed heterogeneous responses. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected]

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