Effect of maternal nutrient restriction in early to mid gestation and thyrotrophin-releasing hormone on lamb survival following Caesarean section delivery near to term

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2000 Jul;78(7):571-7. doi: 10.1139/y00-027.


We investigated the influence of restricted maternal nutrition between 28 and 77 days gestation on survival and thermoregulatory adaptation following Caesarean section delivery near to term. This study was designed to examine the hypothesis that adaptation after birth would be compromised in those lambs born to nutrient restricted ewes. We further hypothesised that this would be due in part to inadequate hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroidal function. Lambs born to nutrient restricted ewes were untreated (RU) or treated with thyrotrophin-releasing hormone (TRH; RT) immediately prior to umbilical cord clamping. Single bearing ewes consumed either 6.60 MJ x day(-1) (controls, n = 4) or 3.00 MJ x day(-1) (nutrient restricted, n = 15) from 28-77 days gestation, after which all ewes consumed 7.20 MJ x day(-1). All lambs born to control ewes commenced continuous breathing and began to shiver following Caesarean section delivery and survived to 6 h after birth. Only 4 out of 9 RU lambs established continuous breathing and survived to 6 h after birth compared with all RT lambs. Six hours after birth, RT lambs possessed perirenal brown adipose tissue with a higher thermogenic activity than 6 h old RU or control lambs. Lamb birth weight was similar in all groups. In conclusion, near-term lambs born to ewes nutrient restricted in early to mid gestation are at increased risk of death following Caesarean section delivery. Survival after birth can be significantly enhanced if TRH is administered to the lambs immediately before delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature Regulation
  • Cesarean Section
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Female
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Organ Size
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Placenta / anatomy & histology
  • Pregnancy
  • Sheep
  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology*


  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone