Study Overview: The incidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes is higher in pregnancies where the fetus is male. Sex specific differences in feto-placental perfusion indices identified by Doppler assessment have recently been associated with placental insufficiency and fetal growth restriction. This study aims to investigate sex specific differences in placental perfusion and to correlate these changes with fetal growth. It represents the largest comprehensive study under field conditions of uterine hemodynamics in a monotocous species, with a similar long gestation period to the human. Primiparous 14mo heifers in Australia (n=360) and UK (n=180) were either individually or group fed, respectively, diets with differing protein content (18, 14, 10 or 7% crude protein (CP)) from 60d prior to 98 days post conception (dpc). Fetuses and placentae were excised at 98dpc (n = 48). Fetal development an median uterine artery blood flow were assessed monthly from 36dpc until term using B-mode and Doppler ultrasonography. MUA blood flow to the male feto-placental unit increased in early pregnancy associated with increased fetal growth. Protein restriction before and shortly after conception (-60d up to 23dpc) increased MUA diameter and indices of velocity during late pregnancy, reduced fetal heart weight in the female fetus and increased heart rate at birth, but decreased systolic blood pressure at six months of age. Conclusion and Significance: Sex specific differences both in feto-placental Doppler perfusion indices and response of these indices to dietary perturbations were observed. Further, maternal diet affected development of fetal cardiovascular system associated with altered fetal haemodynamics in utero, with such effects having a sex bias. The results from this study provide further insight into the gender specific circulatory differences present in the fetal period and developing cardiovascular system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)