Roles of ovarian progesterone secretion and maternal nutrition in fetal development were investigated in a species that normally experiences considerable embryonic and fetal mortality. Pregnancies were maintained in 81% of Yorkshire pigs during prolonged starvation (e.g., 40 days; 0 kcal/day, water only) in either the middle third (days 30-70) or last third (days 70-110) of gestation compared with 100% in full-fed controls (7,028 kcal/day). In spite of severe maternal deprivation, fetal survival rates averaged 65% in starved dams and 63% in controls; mean number of living fetuses was 9.9 in starved and 9.6 in control dams. Fetal growth was reduced by maternal starvation during the middle third, but not the last third of pregnancy. Placental insufficiency was the primary cause of reduced fetal growth and resulted in abortion in a few of the dams. Progesterone in peripheral serum of dams starved either during middle or late pregnancy was maintained at levels similar (P greater than 0.05) to those in controls. Abortion occurred in starved dams only when serum progesterone concentrations dropped to less than 10 ng/ml within 3 days before loss of conceptuses.
- Copyright © 1979 by American Physiological Society