Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)

Influence of prenatal corticosteroid therapy on neonatal vitality and utility as a labor-inducing agent in Santa Inês ewes

Elisiane Sateles dos Santos; Rodrigo Freitas Bittencourt; Gleice Mendes Xavier; Carmo Emanuel Almeida Biscarde; Isabella de Matos Brandão Carneiro; Mateus Martins Rodrigues dos Santos; Antonio de Lisboa Ribeiro Filho

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Abstract: Since the 1970s, maternal corticosteroid therapy has been used successfully to induce labor. This allows for better monitoring of parturients and provision of first aid to neonates, improving neonatal viability, as this treatment induces maturation in a variety of fetal tissues, thereby reducing morbidity and mortality. Although the effects of corticosteroids are well known, few studies have investigated the influence of this therapy in Santa Inês sheep. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of dexamethasone at two doses (8 and 16 mg) to induce lambing in Santa Inês ewes at 145 days of gestation and assess its effects on neonatal vitality. For this study, 58 ewes raised in an extensive system were investigated. Pregnancy was confirmed after artificial insemination at a set time or after controlled mounting. Ewes were separated into three groups: an untreated control group (G1: 0 mg) and groups treated with two doses of dexamethasone (G2: 8 mg and G3: 16 mg). In total, 79 lambs were born. Their vitality was assessed based on their Apgar score, weight, temperature, and postnatal behavior. SAS v9.1.3 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC) was used to analyze data, considering a 5% significance level for all analyses. The births in the induced groups occurred 48.4 ± 22.1 h after induction, while the ewes that underwent non-induced labor gave birth 131.96 ± 41.9 h after placebo application (p < 0.05), confirming the efficacy of dexamethasone to induce and synchronize labor. The induced and non-induced neonates had similar Apgar scores, temperatures, weights, and postnatal behavioral parameters (p > 0.05). This study showed that inducing labor in Santa Inês ewes at 145 days of gestation with a full (16 mg) or half dose (8 mg) of dexamethasone is an effective technique and does not compromise neonate vitality.


corticosteroid, parturient, reproductive biotechnology, sheep


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