Metabolic adjustments to moderate maternal nutrient restriction

Natalia E. Schlabritz-Loutsevitch, Christopher J. Dudley, Jeremiah J. Gomez, Nevill C. Heath, Bonnie K. Smith, Susan L. Jenkins, Thomas J. McDonald, Thad Q. Bartlett, Peter W. Nathanielsz, Mark J. Nijland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Reduced food availability in pregnancy influences fetal growth, obstetric outcomes and offspring health in both developing and developed countries. The objective of the present study was to determine responses to moderate global maternal nutrient restriction (MNR) during pregnancy in baboons (Papio hamadryas) - an established non-human primate model for pregnancy-related research. Starting at 30d gestation (dG), twelve pregnant baboons received 70% of food (MNR group) consumed by twenty ad libitum-fed pregnant controls. Maternal body weight, BMI, food intake and physical activity were measured before pregnancy, at 90 and at 165dG (full-term 180dG). Fetal and placental weights were recorded at the time of Caesarean section (90 and 165dG). Activity patterns were also evaluated in fourteen non-pregnant female baboons. Behavioural observations were made in five non-pregnant, six control and four MNR animals. Pregnant baboons decreased overall physical activity and energy-expensive behaviours compared with non-pregnant baboons. In the MNR group, maternal weight, weight gain and maternal physical activity were reduced compared with the control animals. MNR decreased placental weight and volume compared with control, while fetal weight and length were unaffected. We conclude that decreased physical activity and increased usage of maternal available body stores play an important role in the maternal response to pregnancy. Also, adaptations in maternal behaviour and energy utilisation protect fetal growth during moderate MNR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-284
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Baboons
  • Behaviour
  • Nutrient restriction
  • Physical activity
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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