Litter-size-dependent intrauterine growth restriction in sheep. Academic Article uri icon


  • Regulation of foetal development in sheep depends on interactions between the intrinsic capacity of the foetus for growth and the maternal environment. Lambs born in multi-foetus litters have relatively small placentae with fewer cotelydons, and lower birth weights. Litter-size-dependent intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is evident at mid gestation when metabolic needs of the conceptus are moderate, and overnutrition of ewes with multiple foetuses does not promote growth of their foetuses to the size of singletons. Those observations suggest that placental and conceptus growth in multi-foetus pregnancies is reprogrammed at mid gestation by an as yet undefined mechanism to attenuate foetal growth. This may protect the foetus from severe nutritional insult during late gestation, when its daily growth rate is at a maximum. In that way, lambs born in large litters with relatively lower birth weights may not experience the long-term physiological insults that can be observed in small lambs born to undernourished ewes.

published proceedings

  • Animal

author list (cited authors)

  • Gootwine, E., Spencer, T. E., & Bazer, F. W.

citation count

  • 62

complete list of authors

  • Gootwine, E||Spencer, TE||Bazer, FW

publication date

  • May 2007